Energy-filled pickets at EDF

A Unite member

Unite members employed as meter operatives in London began five days of strike action on 11 January. Pickets at EDF headquarters in Bexleyheath, Kent formed a determined barrier to block vehicles entering the building, leading to massive traffic congestion.

Angry managers pleaded with pickets to move. When this failed, the company called the police. When they arrived the police entered into debate about the merits of trade union membership and complained that they were not allowed to strike – saying they hoped this changed soon!

Tracker devices

The strike is in protest at extended weekend and evening working, performance management, failure to stick to agreements, on the spot drug and alcohol checks, increased CRB checks and tracker devices on vehicles. Where these issues are covered by agreements, the employer has said it will rip them up!

Recent talks at Acas broke up when the employer constantly added new controversial items each time an agreement was near – frustrating not just the Unite negotiators but Acas too. One striker said: “We were prepared to talk but instead of talking the employer came back with ridiculous demands!”

Spirits on the picket line were kept very high by playing cat and mouse with the employer who had assigned managers to follow the pickets – presumably to act as the most obvious bugging devices in the history of espionage.

Once the pickets realised they were being followed, they simply walked around and around the depot – with the manager following!

Despite the antics of the employer this is a very important dispute. The employer is out to break the union at EDF – which is why Unite will be escalating strike action and campaign activity to ensure a workers victory.