Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/566/6882
Construction workers' battle to defend jobs and conditions
Andy Ford, Liverpool Socialist Party, spoke to a number of workers at the Fiddlers Ferry power station construction site on 3 February. They were protesting about the same use of EU legislation to undermine union-negotiated agreements as the workers at the Lindsey oil refinery site.
A UCATT member: "This dispute is not racist - that is just a myth used to attack us. The companies are undermining our agreements. They have seen a loophole and they are attacking us. They are using the foreign lads as guinea pigs. They have them on lower rates, they say it's the same rate but it's not. They can charge them whatever they like for food, accommodation.
"They are not all fully qualified. Living on barges - what is that all about - they won't be flying them back home each weekend, that's for sure!"
Another UCATT member: "It's a good turnout - 60 or 70 out of 200, the weather hasn't helped." Commenting on the lack of trade union flags or banners: "We know the union has to stay in the background because of the laws."
A Unite member: "This has been building up for months. Alstom have been ripping up agreements, attacking union organisers, victimising people. We might get trouble off them tomorrow, but we have trouble off them anyway!
"They are using out-of-scope lads [out of the scope of the national agreements] to undermine us, our pay, our overtime. The out-of-scope lads are not even foreign, but they are under-cutting the union workforce. They are being used, often through self employment, false self employment".
An EPIU member: "This is like a kettle boiling over - all you see is the explosion but someone's been heating the kettle for ages underneath. The lads can't take any more, so there's this."
Unite members: "We were on a job in Trafford Park, in Manchester. The company had some Polish lads in, kept them on a different section, we knew they were being paid less. But we made contact, got them in the union. They formed a shop with a steward, and we got them employed 'cards in'. And once they were employed properly, the company finished them and they disappeared. The companies are just using these people".
In The Socialist 11 February 2009:
Socialist Party youth and students
Socialist Party campaigns
Socialist Party workplace news
International socialist news and analysis
Socialist Party review