Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page: https://www.socialistparty.org.uk/articles/15240

Posted on 17 September 2012 at 16:47 GMT

Sparks picket Crossrail Paddington site, 17.9.12, photo Neil Cafferky

Sparks picket Crossrail Paddington site, 17.9.12, photo Neil Cafferky   (Click to enlarge)

Sparks' picket blockades Paddington Crossrail site

The epic battle between electricians and the electrical contracting companies has been running on construction sites around the country for the past 18 months. In London there have been protests from 6am almost every week.

The opening battle ended in defeat for the employers. Wage cuts of 35% and changes to terms and conditions in the form of the Building and Engineering Service National Agreement (Besna) were defeated after a determined rank and file campaign from the sparks.

However the employers have not given up the war. There have been a number of attempts to bring Besna in through the back door as well as attempts to victimise the leaders of the rank and file.

Construction workers' protest outside Paddington Crossrail site, 17.9.12, photo by Neil Cafferky

Construction workers' protest outside Paddington Crossrail site, 17.9.12, photo by Neil Cafferky   (Click to enlarge)

These attacks took a more serious turn on Friday at the Crossrail site at Paddington, west London. EIS lost the contract on site which led to the sacking of 28 of the firm's electricians, including three Unite stewards, with only a few hours' notice.

Union activists see this as a blatant attempt to drive union organisation off site. A decision was made to picket the site on Monday morning (17 September) to demand that the sacked electricians be transferred to the incoming electrical contractors.

Over 40 sparks and their supporters gathered at 6am outside the main site entrance, beside Westbourne Park bus garage, and blockaded the site.

Site security

Construction workers' protest outside Paddington Crossrail site, 17.9.12, photo Neil Cafferky

photo Neil Cafferky

Bollards and plastic barriers were scavenged from the site entrance to assemble a makeshift barricade.

A game of cat and mouse went on for 15 minutes between security and pickets. Security would charge in and pull pieces of the barricade out.

Picketers would then plug the gap with other material lying about. The game finally came to an end when a number of picketers sat down on top of the barricade, forcing security to line up behind the barricade with their arms folded! Traffic was delayed on the busy Great Western Road as numerous lorries were refused entry and eventually turned away.

The picket caused such a commotion that bus drivers from the nearby garage came out. One driver, seeing the Unite flags and clearly still reliving their recent strike victory, rushed over to the picket and asked: "Are we on strike again?".

Construction workers' protest outside Paddington Crossrail site, 17.9.12, photo by Neil Cafferky

photo by Neil Cafferky   (Click to enlarge)

As the picket was winding down, one security guard attempted to photo the registration number of the picketers' van.

With memories of blacklisting and victimisation fresh in the minds of sparks, this was an extremely provocative move.

A number of picketers, including Rob Williams from the National Shop Stewards Network, blocked the security guard from taking pictures.

In frustration the security guard shoved Rob Williams against the van bonnet. This provoked a furious reaction from the pickets, forcing the security guard to beat a hasty retreat back behind the police.

Scandalously the ranking police officer then defended the behaviour of the security guard! Pickets were quick to point out that if the situation had been reversed the police would not be so forgiving.

A number of Unite officials met with Crossrail project managers to discuss the sackings. At the time of writing, no progress had been made and plans are under way to picket again on Tuesday at 6:15am.

Neil Cafferky
Construction workers' protest outside Paddington Crossrail site, 17.9.12, photo by Neil Cafferky

Construction workers' protest outside Paddington Crossrail site, 17.9.12, photo by Neil Cafferky   (Click to enlarge)

.


This version of this article was first posted on the Socialist Party website on 17 September 2012 and may vary slightly from the version subsequently printed in The Socialist.

Why not click here to join the Socialist Party, or click here to donate to the Socialist Party.






Related links:

Electricians:

triangleWoolwich Crossrail walkouts to demand promised bonuses

triangleSupport the Crossrail Woolwich walkout

triangleCrossrail action in defence of victimised union rep

triangleLondon Crossrail workers walk out

triangleCrossrail sparks get organised

Unite:

triangleBromley libraries - indefinite strike action continues

triangleBromley library workers walk out over 'insulting' pay offer

triangleAberdeen bus drivers strike against pay cuts

triangleHinkley workers win back unpaid wages after sit-in protest

Police:

triangleDefend socialist councillor Kshama Sawant against lawsuits

triangleWalkout from undercover policing inquiry

triangleBrazil: Psol councillor Marielle Franco murdered

Besna:

triangleUnite day of action against blacklisting

triangleSpied on by the state and bosses

National Shop Stewards Network:

triangleNSSN conference moves

Reports and campaigns

Reports and campaigns

18/4/18

UCU

UCU members vote to end pensions dispute

18/4/18

Usdaw

Usdaw conference 2018: time for new era of fighting trade unionism

18/4/18

Leeds

Victorious Fearnville Fields campaigners thank the Socialist

18/4/18

Hull

Hull says no to war, no to austerity

18/4/18

The Socialist

The Socialist - a fighting, campaigning, workers' paper

18/4/18

Socialist Party

Building fund: 150,000 milestone smashed!

18/4/18

Fighting Fund

Give us your change (and more) to fight for system change!

18/4/18

Scotland

Workers' victory over anti-union Scottish council

18/4/18

Newham

Avenue School strikers and parents win judicial review

18/4/18

PCS

Vote for a left, fighting PCS leadership

18/4/18

PCS

PCS rejects Acas offer - further strikes announced

18/4/18

Bromley

Bromley libraries - indefinite strike action continues

18/4/18

Butterfields

Butterfields tenants join TUSC campaign

13/4/18

Cuts

Fighting the cuts to women's services

11/4/18

Health

May elections: a chance to fight attacks on health and social care

triangleMore Reports and campaigns articles...


Join the Socialist Party
Subscribe to Socialist Party publications
Donate to the Socialist Party
Socialist Party Facebook page
Socialist Party on Twitter
Visit us on Youtube

LATEST POSTS

CONTACT US

Phone our national office on 020 8988 8777

Email: info@socialistparty.org.uk

Locate your nearest Socialist Party branch Text your name and postcode to 07761 818 206

Regional Socialist Party organisers:

Eastern: 0798 202 1969

East Mids: 0773 797 8057

London: 020 8988 8786

North East: 0784 114 4890

North West 07769 611 320

South East: 020 8988 8777

South West: 07759 796 478

Southern: 07833 681910

Wales: 07935 391 947

West Mids: 02476 555 620

Yorkshire: 0114 264 6551

ABOUT US

ARCHIVE

Alphabetical listing


April 2018

March 2018

February 2018

January 2018

2017

2016

2015

2014

2013

2012

2011

2010

2009

2008

2007

2006

2005

2004

2003

2002

2001

2000

1999