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From The Socialist newspaper, 22 September 2009

Engineering construction: Stewards' forum recommends bosses' offer Workers should reject!

Ste Jones from Lindsey Oil Refinery construction site attended the national shop stewards forum for engineering construction on 17 September. Socialist Party members recommended rejection of a recent offer from the construction employers, for the reasons Ste explains:

I sensed straight away where this meeting was heading due to the fact we were given a mere 30 minutes to look through a 20-page document (employers' final pay and conditions offer).

30 minutes to pick through what could have a lasting effect on thousands of construction workers across the country. Why this document was not distributed before the meeting is beyond me.

All stewards were given an opportunity to speak regarding the agreement that was being recommended to us by the Unite and GMB national officers. The 50 or so stewards raised numerous issues to the top table.

One of the main issues brought up was item 6, Register of unemployed workers: "A NJC working party to be convened to consider the establishment of a voluntary database of unemployed operatives."

In my opinion this would be an excellent addition as this would be a database on what skills and trades are available. It would counter the companies who claim there is a skills shortage in the UK and bring in cheap labour from Europe to undermine our National Agreement. It would help eradicate agencies, who seem to be getting a major foot in the door on NAECI contracts at present.

It was suggested that this database be set up immediately but no promises were given from the top table. To accept the agreement all points had to be agreed by the stewards. Because the establishment of the database was not made definite, I for one will not be accepting the agreement.

Another main point was the 2% pay deal on offer. The same old talk of "recession", "bad times", "we were lucky to be getting a pay rise" etc was given to us.

The bonus scheme of 2.50 per hour will rise to 2.55 per hour. But 1.85 will be "automatically forfeited to the audit period in question, in the event of any form of unprocedural action or any other unauthorised stoppage of work". This is a blatant attack on the trade union movement and organisation in the workplace.

The threat of losing your bonus for the month, if you have an unofficial meeting and get organised on site, will surely put people off attending meetings. At present it's hard work getting an hour a month from the employers to report back to the shop floor, never mind agreement for more official meetings. The 2% increase is a disgrace at best, but to have attachments that blatantly attack organisation in the workplace, only reaffirms what we're up against.

The recommendation from the top table was put to the stewards. If accepted, we would take it back as a recommendation to the members. It was passed 25-20.

The closeness of the vote shows how uneasy the stewards feel about the offer. For the first time it was admitted from the top table that without the Lindsey disputes earlier this year and in June, negotiations would not have been favourable to the workforce!

With an official ballot for strike action across seven sites, now is the time to hit back against the employers, not bow down to their demands. Instead I've got to go back to the members and give them a shop stewards' forum recommendation to accept this deal.

At Lindsey the fear of striking has gone. After the members read the deal on offer I'm sure many will vote 'no'. Hopefully members across the country will follow suit and stand up against the employers and denounce the NAECI pay and conditions offer as totally unacceptable.

Around a dozen copies of The Socialist were sold at the meeting and one young worker indicated interest in joining the Socialist Party.

Why not click here to join the Socialist Party, or click here to donate to the Socialist Party.

In The Socialist 22 September 2009:

No cuts in public services

Prepare political challenge to cuts agenda


Higher education - cuts cuts cuts!

Universities in crisis - Join Socialist Students

Defend education - stop the 2 billion cuts in spending


Brown declares war on workers

TUC congress: Anger on the fringes, inaction at the top

War and occupation

Afghanistan: An unwinnable war

Postal workers strike

Postal workers strike as national ballot continues

Warrington mail centre


Vestas workers determined to continue fight for jobs

Youth fight for jobs

Youth unemployment hits record level

Future Jobs Fund - massaging the figures

Socialist Party news and analysis

Campaign for a Salford workers' MP

Energy rip-off

Threat to Coventry homeless

International socialist news

Socialist Party MEP denounces "campaign of fear" on Lisbon Treaty

Workers' fightback grows in Italy

Socialist Party workplace news

Engineering construction: Stewards' forum recommends bosses' offer Workers should reject!

Portsmouth shipbuilders vote for strike

Bosses ask JCB workers for sacrifice

Battle over pensions means strike threat at Corus

Liverpool bin workers score victory

Socialist Party reviews

Listening to Grasshoppers by Arundhati Roy

The Dirty Thirty - Heroes of the Miners' Strike

The Anti-Flag album 'The People or the Gun'


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