The Socialist 27 May 2009 |
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The diary of a shop steward
Steve Jones, a steward at the LOR site, wrote a diary of the strike. This is an edited version.
Tuesday, 19 May. On arriving to the monthly Project Council Meeting [PJC] in Grimsby, I received a phone call from a friend at Conoco who told me they had walked in support of workers in South Hook LNG plant.
Rumours had been circulating that Hertel UK, the contractor on South Hook, had broken a local agreement to source local labour and had taken on 50 Polish laggers instead.
I went inside where the rest of the stewards were having a pre-meeting with the Unite full-time official (FTO) and informed them.
By 10am, without stewards being present on the site, LOR workers had joined Conoco in withdrawing the workforce. Another show of solidarity by LOR that the undermining of our national and local agreements will not be tolerated.
A request by the employers to cancel the PJC was then made. This motion the stewards and FTO denied but the employers walked out.
The FTO then left and the stewards stayed and discussed our strategy. We decided on a press release, as we did not want to give any parts of the media or other intruders the chance to jump on the bandwagon to say that we are nationalists or xenophobic.
This is something the Socialist Party had helped to stamp out earlier in the year, whereas other parties had tried to call us nationalists without knowing the true facts.
The no-show of the far right parties at the strike shows the effect of the position taken by the stewards and the shop floor in stamping this out.
The stewards also agreed to meet at 7.15am on Wednesday in the LOR car park to relay information. The news coming through was excellent as, LOR, Conoco, Dragon LNG, Grangemouth, Fiddlers Ferry, Aberthaw, Stanlow all came out in support of South Hook with other sites having meetings and joining the protests throughout the day.
Wednesday, 20 May. A pre-meeting was held by the stewards. It was agreed that our issues at LOR would be put on hold and we would be in full support of our colleagues at South Hook.
At 7.15am the meeting agreed we would back South Hook indefinitely on all decisions they made. LOR travelling workers would spread out across the country and support their local brothers and sisters on picket lines. It was felt that this would give other sites useful information regarding the experience gained by LOR workers during the action taken earlier this year.
At around 8am it came through that South Hook had blockaded the roads leading into the South Wales LNG plant. This spurred on the LOR and Conoco brothers and sisters to do the same and block the main roads leading into the refineries. This was a complete success causing tailbacks right across North Lincolnshire and caught the police off guard.
The police did not move us but reversed the cars and trucks out. Again showing that as a group if we stand together we can achieve everything and anything we want.
Around 6pm I received a phone call stating that Hertel had given into the pressure put on them by everyone involved in the unofficial strikes across the country.
This shows that rank and file members of the union, becoming organised and standing shoulder to shoulder in unofficial pickets across the country, can defeat these companies who have no regard for our national agreements and local communities, who rely so much on these jobs.
The repudiation letters again from the unions have arrived: "Your union has repudiated the call [or calls] for industrial action...". Same old tired response from the leaders of our unions.
The shop stewards' forum is on 5 June, where a national day of action will be called for and is needed right across the country. Surely now our national officers can't deny this for members who are desperately seeking backing from the union? They are taking the easy option and hiding behind anti-trade union laws.