Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/articles/7337
An action plan for all sites
Despite the recession, there is predicted to be significant growth in the engineering construction industry over the next decade due to the decommissioning of power stations and the building of a new generation of nuclear power stations.
Industry employers want to bring in cheap foreign labour to undermine the NAECI national agreement and drive down wages and costs to boost their profits. This has been met by the determined resistance of construction workers taking unofficial and illegal strikes at Lindsey Oil Refinery in January and February this year and now South Hook, backed each time by solidarity action across a majority of sites.
Union leaders are currently in negotiations with the employers' organisation about reviewing the NAECI for 2010. A fourth meeting takes place on 3 June which will be followed by a long awaited NAECI stewards' national meeting in Manchester on 5 June. This will hear a report back on negotiations and decide what action to take.
So far the trade union officials have dragged their feet but after the latest unofficial strikes they fear losing control. "It shocked me," Alun Rappell, GMB Wales regional organiser told the Financial Times (22 May) "I asked them to hold fire until Friday to allow this company [time], but overnight word of mouth got from site to site to site."
And Phil Davies, GMB sector national secretary said in relation to an official ballot: "I think that's the way we have to go. Then we have control over it, it's going to be done in a proper manner and it's going to be done legally."
Socialist Party members and supporters in the industry call for:
- The extension of the NAECI terms and conditions to cover every site, contract and job, to be written into the national agreement.
- A trade union register of locally unemployed members with union nominating rights as work becomes available.
- No concessions, such as the withdrawal of the morning tea break.
- A substantial pay rise.
If these demands are not met, then we propose that the NAECI stewards' national meeting adopt the following action plan:
- Both unions, Unite and GMB, should conduct immediate and simultaneous ballots of all NAECI engineering construction members for discontinuous industrial action.
- The trade unions and shop stewards should conduct a campaign to win a decisive Yes vote on all sites, especially amongst members engaged in repair and maintenance.
- Industrial action should begin within 28 days of the ballot result with a one day industry wide national strike, including repair and maintenance, with the provision of emergency and safety cover determined by the trade unions.
- In the event that the employers seek a court injunction, the trade union laws should be defied and the strike go ahead. Any attempt to sequestrate union or individual member's assets or threaten imprisonment to be met by an all-out indefinite strike.
- The NAECI stewards' meeting should elect a steward-led national strike committee, with representation from every site, to determine further industrial action at the most effective times (depending on outages, rebuilds etc). This strike committee could also co-ordinate any further unofficial strike action that may occur in the event of another South Hook type situation.
- If the union officials block the establishment of such a strike committee, delegates to the Manchester meeting should go ahead and set it up on an unofficial basis and seek to extend it to gain representation from every site in the country.