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From The Socialist newspaper, 31 March 2009

Construction workers' protests continue

On 24 March, a protest took place outside the Grain power station in Kent against the driving down of construction workers' wages .

Jacqui Berry, president Medway Trades Union Council

A Polish worker from the Alstom construction site on the power station recently showed his pay cheque to the Unite union. He was being paid a third less than the nationally agreed rates.

The trade unions mobilised over 100 construction workers from all over the country, including those who had taken strike action at the Lindsey Oil Refinery, Staythorpe, and South Wales. Workers from Grain and unemployed workers from the local area were also there.

Off the back of these protests, the GMB Unite unions have been able to negotiate backpay for all the workers who were being short-changed.

The subcontractors, Remak and ZRE have said they will not consider UK based workers and so far, over 600 job applications have been rejected on the site. This was because it was cheaper to bring non-unionised workers in and pay them less than the national agreement.

The unions involved are hopeful that now Remak and ZRE have been exposed they will pay nationally agreed rates. But the subcontractors are still planning to float a barge in the River Medway to work on the Alstom site (owned by the power company Eon).

This will subject those workers to poor living standards at the same time as using them to cut wages overall.

This is not just a local issue. On sites up and down the country contractors and subcontractors are seeking to erode the national agreement (Blue book), drive down wages and undermine trade unions.

What we need is to pull together the workers who have been involved in strike action with workers on other sites in a one day nationwide strike and a national demonstration in London.

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