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London Crossrail workers walk out
Rob Williams, NSSN national chair
Hundreds of electricians walked off construction sites on the massive Crossrail job in London on 25 November demanding that management adhere to the Joint Industry Board (JIB) agreement on the payment of a second tier productivity bonus.
They protested outside Crossrail's head office, in the belly of the beast of capitalism itself, Canary Wharf. They then went en masse to the Oxford Street office of one of the major contractors - Laing O'Rourke/Crown House - near the Tottenham Court site.
Members of the Socialist Party and the National Shop Stewards Network (NSSN) supported the workers and suggested taking the demonstration inside the office, which saw the reception crammed with protesting electricians chanting "Crossrail pay up!" Workers found out afterwards that the Farringdon had been locked down by management because they thought they were next for a visit!
I spoke at the Oxford Street protest, reminding workers about the 2012 victory over the Besna contract that would have seen wages cut by 35% and this year's £75 million compensation won from bosses by blacklisted workers. I also called for the immediate reinstatement of the suspended Unite shop steward at the Bow site.
The stoppage was a timely warning as Unite launches a campaign of demands they want from Crossrail and the electrical contractors. A consultative industrial action ballot will start this week.
As well as the second tier payment, workers are calling for project-wide agreements on a safety committee, redundancy terms, stewards committee and full and unfettered access of union officers to workforce, and a working party on working hours.
As the trade union movement marks the fifth anniversary of the massive two million strong 30 November public sector pensions strike it also awaits the implementation of the Tory Trade Union Act. This action, along with the unofficial walkout of prison officers two weeks ago, is a sign of the potential power of the organised working-class!
In The Socialist 30 November 2016:
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