Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/361/5943
Blair And Beckham - The Champagne Charlies
THE LOCK-OUT OF 250 workers who were employed in the construction of the new Wembley Stadium is continuing. The workers were sacked at two hours' notice on 10 August. Their dispute has since been made official by the GMB union, which represents most of the locked-out workers.
The workers were initially working for a company called Cleveland Bridge, which was dropped from the Wembley project a month ago.
They were all taken on by a company called Fasttrack who are refusing to honour the transfer regulations (TUPE) and have changed the workers' hours.
Graham, senior GMB steward at Wembley told the socialist: "Last Friday we called the picket off until Monday so that Multiplex [the parent company which Fasttrack is contracted to] could get into talks with GMB and Amicus but there have been no talks. And the company haven't even approached the GMB for talks. So, as from today (7 September), the picket line is back on and all the GMB lads are on the picket line.
"Our picket lines have been quite effective. Production in the stadium is almost at a standstill now. The civil engineering work is starting to dry up and there's no steel going into the site so things should stop within a week or two.
"The company brought in eleven lads from Holland to work but once they realised what was going on they went home. Multiplex have told them that there's nothing wrong at the moment and told them to come back, which they have but they are thinking about going home again today.
"The mood here is very solid and we're going to stay out until we get our jobs back on the same pay and conditions. This has never been about money but about our terms and conditions and our right to do the job safely.
"This Fasttrack have got rid of the agreements on the safety side and they only want to pay us what they think fit and it's just not safe enough. That's why we have had one death on the job and three men will never work again.
"Last week 150 protested when Blair and Beckham came to drink champagne and light up the arch. It was hard to get close to them but we think we made the point."
The overwhelming majority of the sacked workers are from outside London and have to pay for lodging and travel to ensure the picket lines continue. They will need thousands of pounds a week to maintain the dispute.
- Donations and messages of support should be sent to Graham Caster at 18 Waxwell Lane, Pinner, Middlesex HA5 Tel: 07968 022695. (Phone for details or see The Socialist newspaper)
In The Socialist 11 September 2004:
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