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Posted on 29 May 2011 at 16:51 GMT

Saltend construction workers' struggle ends

The heroic struggle by engineering construction workers locked out from work on the bioethanol plant at BP Saltend near Hull has ended after nearly three months.

The fight by 400 workers to win back their jobs, after their contractor Redhalls was thrown off the job by the BP owned client Vivergo, has not been successful.

The decision of the NECC national shop stewards forum, under pressure from the trade union bureaucracy, to not call industry-wide industrial action was a crucial turning point in this dispute.

However, the refusal of the workers to accept a financial settlement with onerous conditions, and continued protests by a hard-core of protesters, have forced Vivergo, who initially refused any responsibility for the locked-out workers, to increase the money and drop most of the strings.

Whilst most workers have now understandably taken the money, a few, including Socialist Party and lock-out committee member Keith Gibson have refused to take any pay-off from Redhalls or Vivergo and will pursue legal claims against these companies.

These will be important test cases because the worry is that what BP/Vivergo have done at Saltend will set a dangerous precedent for mass sackings by employers in the industry as a means of breaking the national NAECI agreement and undermining TUPE rights.

A fuller article next week will look at the lessons of this dispute and its implications for the industry and trade union struggles.

Alistair Tice, Yorkshire Socialist Party

This version of this article was first posted on the Socialist Party website on 29 May 2011 and may vary slightly from the version subsequently printed in The Socialist.

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