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Posted on 2 May 2011 at 15:35 GMT

Solidarity action builds for locked out BP/Vivergo Saltend workers

Scaffolders and electricians support the locked out Saltend Redhall workers, photo by  Socialist Party

Scaffolders and electricians support the locked out Saltend Redhall workers, photo by Socialist Party

The 400 Redhall construction workers, locked out for two months by BP/Vivergo from the bioethanol plant at Saltend, Hull, received two big boosts to their campaign for reinstatement last week.

On Tuesday 26 April, the scaffolders and electricians, employed by contractors for Vivergo, voted by about 90% to walk out again in support of the locked out Redhall workers.

This act of solidarity sends a clear message to BP/Vivergo that they cannot divide and rule. So if any scaff or spark is sacked as a result of their stand, construction workers around the country must be asked for solidarity strike action.

With the scaffolders and electricians joining the protest, now is the time for the repair and maintenance workers at BP to rejoin the action and bring this dispute to a head.

All trade union members should boycott the site until the Redhall workers are guaranteed re-employment with TUPE rights.

The next day, Wednesday 27 April, the industry national shop stewards' forum unanimously agreed to call for a national day of action if no settlement is reached in this dispute by the time of the next stewards forum which will be held on 9-10 May.

Stewards agreed to organise levies and collections to finance the hardship fund.

Redhall workers should visit NAECI sites over the next week with explanatory leaflets appealing for support so that a national day of action, which needs to be a one-day national strike, is called as soon as possible from the next stewards' forum.

Later that day, another meeting was held with Vivergo at its request. Despite the Redhall workers' rejection of a 1 million pay-off, Vivergo was still not prepared to talk about jobs.

In fact one of the bosses actually said: "Redhalls employees do not fit into my business plan". This is the clearest admission yet that BP/Vivergo ended the Redhall contract to get rid of what they regard as a militant workforce, to break the trade unions and to be able to pick and choose who they take back.

Vivergo needs to understand that there is no business plan without the Redhall workers because no union members will take their jobs or work with scab labour.

The Redhall workers are not interested in selling their jobs. They are fighting for re-employment on TUPE terms and conditions and protecting the NAECI national agreement.

Alistair Tice, Yorkshire Socialist Party

Protesting outside British Sugar in Newark

(Report added on 3.5.11)

"I am absolutely disgusted about the way we've been treated", locked-out Unite member Ian McPike said outside British Sugar's plant in Newark, Nottinghamshire on 26 April.

A coachload of construction engineering workers travelled down from Middlesborough to protest at their seven-week lock-out.

The Newark plant refines sugar beet and is part of the huge Associated British Food Group, which also owns many well known food brands and agricultural products as well as Primark.

Its British Sugar subsidiary made 240 million profit in 2010 - a 42% increase on 2009. It has a 40% stake in the Vivergo biofuel plant, along with 40% owned by BP and 20% by American chemical giant Du Pont.

"We've seen what BP allowed to happen last year in the Gulf of Mexico", said Ian. "They've cast 400 of us out and all they want to do is take us back on their terms.

"If we don't accept their terms they say we can't go back.

"It seems employment law is only for the employers. BP has a total disregard for the law and for human beings.

"If TUPE is the law, why isn't it protecting us?

"If we don't go national with this we've got no chance against a national company like BP. We've had support from regional GMB and Unite officials but we've never heard from our national union leaders, like Len McCluskey.

I'm disappointed he's not yet been to see us or been on TV arguing our case". 'Our jobs are not for sale' is the mood of the workers.

GMB and Unite must throw their full weight behind them to defend NAECI 'Blue Book' gains from past struggles and the existence of trade unionism in the industry.

Jon Dale

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