Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/568/6983
Jobs protest continues
Public meeting on lessons of the Lindsey oil refinery strike with Keith Gibson (speaking) and Jerry Hicks, photo Paul Mattsson
On Wednesday 18 February hundreds of construction workers picketed again outside Staythorpe power station, near Newark, to protest against the exclusion by Alstom of UK labour from jobs on the site. 60 workers at Staythorpe walked out again despite being threatened with the sack.
Keith Gibson, GMB Lindsey Oil Refinery (LOR) and Alistair Tice
250 workers from Easington, East Yorkshire, struck for the day to join the protest, which was supported by delegations from several other sites including Lindsey Oil Refinery and Fiddlers Ferry.
However frustration is growing with the trade union officials' strategy of delegated protests, lobbying MPs and talking to the employers.
On 24 February there was another mass picket and march into Newark with big support for victimised union activist John McEwan's call for sites to take strike action to maximise attendance. Nearly all the pickets support the call for an industry-wide one day national strike and march on Parliament, first proposed by Socialist Party supporters at the recent national shop stewards' meeting. An unofficial shop stewards network meeting has now been called for Saturday 28 February by the Lindsey Oil Refinery strike committee to co-ordinate the campaign and name a date for action.
As Wally Murray from Easington said: "If the trade union officials won't back us because of the anti-union laws, I'll call for action. I'm not scared of the law because I've got nothing to lose!"
It is vital that this stewards' meeting adopts a clear set of class demands to counter the deliberate media misrepresentation of the dispute as being anti-foreigner. Whilst there is still some "British Jobs for British Workers" feeling, most workers realise that their fight is not with the foreign workers but with the employers who are using migrant labour to undermine jobs, pay and conditions achieved under the national agreement (NAECI).
Several pickets told how the bosses are deliberately segregating the foreign workers. One said: "I used to talk football with the Italian lads but now management won't let them talk to us." Another explained how at Langage power station in Plymouth, Polish workers had walked out in solidarity over a health and safety issue.
It is the EU's pro-business laws, directives and court rulings that allow employers to get away with these attacks on hard-won pay rates, terms and conditions.
The Acas inquiry into the LOR dispute has found that the employers did nothing illegal. We already knew that! That's the whole point. As Socialist Party member Keith Gibson from LOR said: "Wildcat strike action broke the anti-union laws, now we've got to change the Posted Workers Directive laws. The victory at Lindsey secured NAECI rates for the Italian workers with trade union oversight to check its implementation. We're fighting for this throughout the construction industry."
New Labour's slavish support for the bosses means there is widespread support to stop trade union money being paid to the Labour Party.
37 pickets signed the Campaign for a New Workers' Party declaration and 25 copies of The Socialist were sold.
For more information call: 07743 135183.
In The Socialist 24 February 2009:
No Job Cuts
Campaign for a New Workers Party
International socialist news and analysis
Marxist analysis: history
Socialist Party campaigns
Socialist Party workplace news