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Construction workers fight pay cuts
The pressure is growing on the 'Big 7' construction companies who want to withdraw from the Joint Industry Board agreement and impose the new BESNA contracts which will cut workers' pay by up to 35%.
Unite are balloting electricians in Balfour Beatty (BBES) because they've given 1,600 electricians notice that they will put them on the BESNA contract from 7 December. All BBES workers should vote yes to strike on that day.
Electricians all over the country are fighting back. In Glasgow, "skilled jobs for skilled workers" was the chant as over 300 construction electricians and supporters marched from the Unite offices to George Square on 19 November.
Ian Leech brought solidarity greetings from the 11,500 members of Glasgow city Unison. "Our fight is the same as yours. We're fighting to defend decent pay, pensions and working conditions from millionaires who think we should pay the price for an economic crisis created by the rich."
Over 100 electricians and supporters gathered at Farringdon station in London on 16 November. A number of electricians had refused to go into work, including a group of Polish workers. They were given a huge cheer when this was announced on the microphone.
Rob Williams, chair of the National Shop Stewards Network, pointed to the walkouts in Ratcliffe and Corus as showing the way forward. He also urged electricians to join up with the public sector action on 30 November.
Paul Callanan from Youth Fight for Jobs said that kettling was used against sparks' attempts to join the student protest on 9 November because the bosses feared workers joining up with young people in opposition to cuts.
Around 30 electricians demonstrated outside one of SPIE Matthew Hall's sites in Liverpool. The electricians on this site were adamant that the employers must not be allowed to get away with their plans to de-skill and cut the rate for the job and were fully behind the official action being called for 7 December.
On 16 November, around 300 workers protested outside Corus Steel in Redcar.
On the same day all 1,000 contractors at West Burton power station in North Notts struck. GMB pickets spoke to Jon Dale.
"There's no recession in this industry. In fact, there's a massive amount of work, mostly on power stations. Half the power stations need replacing.
"The private owners have also stopped training, so there's a shortage of skilled workers, who are getting older. They did away with apprentices for a long time. They used to pinch skilled workers from steel, mining, railways and other industries, but these sources have dried up. They've tried to bring in foreign workers but that's also caused them problems.
"We've no problem with foreign workers so long as they get the same pay as us."
In The Socialist 23 November 2011:
Pensions' strike, N30
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