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From: Notebook, 25 November 2016: Brief articles and notes on the Socialist Party website

Search site for keywords: Crossrail - Pay - London - Unite - Construction

Crossrail protest 25.11.16, photo by Paula Mitchell

Crossrail protest 25.11.16, photo by Paula Mitchell   (Click to enlarge)

Crossrail day of action

Unite construction rank and file workers are on a day of action at Crossrail today - Friday 25 November - to demand a 2nd tier productivity bonus payment.
Crossrail protest 25.11.16

Crossrail protest 25.11.16   (Click to enlarge)

"When it comes to pay rises that aren't for themselves, Crossrail and its M&E con-tractors prefer not to talk", says the Siteworker leaflet.

Workers staged an unofficial stoppage and rallied - along with supporters - at 7.30am outside Crossrail's offices at 25 Canada Square, London.

London Socialist Party secretary Paula Mitchell tweeted: "We marched, we occupied the building and the road".

Socialist Party members gave out a leaflet containing the following text:

Pay up Crossrail! 2nd tier payment now!

Hundreds of construction electricians have met over the last month to hammer out an action plan on the massive Crossrail project - the biggest publicly-financed scheme in Western Europe.

With management saying that the project is 80% completed and desperate to complete the electrical jobs on time, workers realise that now is the time to put demands on the bosses - direct employment, improved facilities and health & safety and particularly a 2nd tier productivity bonus payment.

This is at the same time that managers and senior engineers are earning 6-figure sums!

Those meetings and today's action is the biggest show of strength of 'The Sparks' since the victorious struggle in 2011-12 to defeat the BESNA contract which the big electrical contractors wanted to impose, which would have seen wages cut by 35%.

Since then, workers have been fighting the use of agencies and 'umbrella companies' and other varieties of bogus self-employment which are used by companies to cut wages.

This is why on the early days of Crossrail, a succession of union activists were blacklisted from the job. This included Frank Morris who was reinstated after a six month campaign and has since been elected to the Unite Executive.

This continues with the suspension of the Unite shop steward at the C360 Eleanor Street shaft. There can't be any agreement without his reinstatement.

Also, this year has seen the monumental victory of the blacklisted workers who won an estimated 75 million in compensation from the major construction companies after decades of being illegally shut out of the sites.

Crossrail protest 25.11.16

Crossrail protest 25.11.16   (Click to enlarge)

All these struggles show that when workers organise and fight together collectively, they can win victories. Only last week, the POA prison officers' union forced the government back to the negotiating table when thousands of their members walked out, even though they have had their legal right to strike taken away.

There are an increasing number of disputes, from the RMT on Southern Rail and soon the London Underground, to the Durham Teaching Assistants and GMB ambulance drivers at St George's hospital in South London.

This summer has seen some of the most exploited workers, such as the Deliveroo couriers in the 'gig economy' and migrant workers in the City of London win against the odds. Think what we could achieve if the unions took action together against the employers and this weak and divided Tory government?

It is clear that a new and increasingly younger layer of electricians are being mobilised by Unite and its rank and file activists.

There have already been instances of unofficial action or 'cabining up' on sites. The National Shop Stewards Network (NSSN) and the Socialist Party give full support to today's action and any other called by the workers that can gain a breakthrough now on Crossrail.

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