Link to this page: https://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/735/15298
Solidarity with workers sacked from Crossrail
Twenty eight workers including a Unite steward and safety rep have been dismissed from the Crossrail project in central London.
The workers employed by EIS Electrical were searched and removed from the site at the instruction of Bam Ferrovial Kier (BFK), the consortium of contractors building Crossrail.
Crossrail is going to be one of the largest infrastructure jobs in the whole of Western Europe - if it is unionised, the workforce will earn good wages and the job will be safe.
The termination of EIS on the project and the effective 28 sackings is a brutal attempt to intimidate construction workers on this prestige job and even throughout the industry.
It is yet another attempt by the construction bosses to grab back some of the losses they suffered after their Besna contract was defeated.
This would have led to electricians, plumbers and pipe fitters losing 35% of their wages but it was beaten by a campaign of stoppages, walkouts and protests lasting six months.
Initially, Unite was slow to respond but rank and file Sparks led the charge and the union came on board with a strike ballot that would have meant a stoppage at the oil refinery in Grangemouth.
Faced with this, the biggest of the 'Dirty 7' companies, Balfour Beatty, capitulated and the rest followed suit. This is the biggest victory for workers in the construction industry for 40 years.
Construction firm Crown House have broken away from the existing JIB terms and conditions, with Sparks rightly concerned that this will lead to them bringing in a new Besna.
The Crossrail sackings are another step in this direction - sack workers, victimise the union reps, try to break the union and then intimidate all workers to prepare the way for new worse contracts now or in the near future.
Bosses always try and play off union reps against the workforce but why would a company go to this trouble if they didn't have something sinister up their sleeves?
A strong union is the only way to protect workers. Don't let them divide us.
If they haven't got anything to hide, they should make the commitment that national agreements are followed and these workers are properly transferred (TUPE) over to whoever replaces EIS on the job.
- Please send donations to the workers' fighting fund from trade union branches etc: cheques payable to Joint Sites Committee. Send to: Crossrail Fighting Fund Appeal 70 Darnay Rise, Chelmsford, CM1 4XA
A terrified Bam site manager ran out to meet the first protesters to arrive on 21 September, as construction workers and their supporters gathered in a quiet suburb of Cardiff to protest in solidarity with the 28 workers sacked by BFK on the Crossrail project.
As the crowd increased, he gave up trying to convince us that the right of companies to make profits was more important than the right of workers to get direct employment and a decent rate of pay, and protesters settled down to leaflet the around 100 workers currently employed on the project.
Bam has been contracted by Cardiff University to put up the Haydn Ellis building, a £20 million research facility.
A Welsh representative on the national Rank and File Committee explained: "Crossrail is a multi-billion pound project that will eventually employ thousands of electricians and other workers.
"Bam seems to be trying to clear the main union organisers off the site at the beginning."
Bam's actions will backfire - the workers on site enthusiastically supported the protest (one young worker forced into bogus self-employment shouted: "F@&k the agencies: give us holiday pay" as he drove past.
The unions are reconquering the construction industry - provocations like Bam's actions in London will only accelerate that.
Construction workers will be lobbying Cardiff and Vale Health Board with Cardiff Against The Cuts to demand they blacklist the blacklisters, and cut construction contracts with anti-trade union firms.
In The Socialist 26 September 2012:
Fightback against austerity
Socialist Party feature
International socialist news and analysis
Socialist Party news and analysis
Socialist Party workplace news
Socialist Party reports and campaigns