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Hull construction workers fight exploitative company
Janet Gibson, Hull Socialist Party
On the same day Hull was boasting more 'City of Culture' events, steel construction workers were making their way to King George Dock in the city, for their second early morning protest against the company Harris Pye on 28 September.
This company is making full use of the EU's 'posted worker's directive' in the hope of smashing up the national NAECI construction agreement protecting pay, terms and conditions of all UK-based EU construction workers.
Demanding a 55-hour week on a zero-hour contract basis, this company pays no premium for overtime, threatens workers with transfers and pays overseas workers £7 an hour less.
This bullying and intimidation stems from the greed of company bosses who use overseas workers who are doubly exploited via the policy known as the EU 'posted worker's directive'.
Freedom of movement means freedom for bosses to exploit UK and overseas labour. This company has withheld of pay for seven weeks to Romanian workers and dismissed another worker just for visiting the dentist!
For over a year construction workers contacted two Hull MPs who in turn raised issues with the leader of Hull Labour council Steve Brady. Construction workers had used the example of other councils 'standard minimum charters' that pledge not to give planning permission to any company who abdicate from nationally agreed trade union pay, terms and conditions. Some charters also state that the councils are a living wage employer supporting an £8.45 an hour rate.
Sadly when we visited Steve Brady at his surgery, he confirmed what we had been told. Hull council was not a living wage employer. Leave it with him, he would investigate these charters and get back to us. He didn't.
Construction workers visited the gallery of the next full council meeting. Councillors were ordered to clear the floor as construction workers Keith Gibson and Neil Dawson made valid points on behalf of construction workers from the public gallery. The farce ended in the deputy leader of the council stating they had raised it in a meeting and it would now take a month to contact Liverpool Council to go into the legalities.
Construction workers from Cheshire to Yorkshire sent delegates to the protest. Keith Gibson explained to his construction workmates amid applause that: "National strike action is now needed to defend NAECI."
Two armed police arrived later. As one construction worker said to the two armed police: "I feel intimidated by your presence, I feel like I'm being treated as a terrorist".
Hull is just one example of the struggle being waged UK wide by construction workers in defence of the NAECI pay rate, terms and conditions and against capitalist EU freedom of movement which is a blatant smokescreen for bosses to exploit workers.