Ferrybridge workers protest against ‘race to bottom’
Today I was told that some companies have started employing engineering construction workers on zero-hour contracts! This is how far the ‘race to the bottom’ has gone. This in an industry that has – on the big sites – a national agreement, the NAECI. But the employers have been attacking, eroding, undermining and by-passing the NAECI for over a decade.
It’s no wonder that 150-200 construction workers protested outside Ferrybridge power station in Yorkshire this morning. A second ‘multi-fuels’ project is starting at Ferrybridge, with fears that local labour will again be excluded as contracts are given to foreign companies who bring in their own core workforces.
On the first project a Croatian company paid its Croatian workers less than the NAECI rate. The unions then won the ‘rate for the job’ for the workers, but their bosses took the money off them when they got back home!
The protest was organised over social media by rank-and-file workers because of dissatisfaction with the inaction of the trade unions and the officials. Around 100 workers came from the Capenhurst site in Cheshire which is a well organised job.
The Socialist Party leaflet was well received by the protesters. One steward from Capenhurst took more copies to put up in the cabins and another said: “Thanks for coming, it’s a good read that.”
The Socialist Party called for:
- National action is needed again. We should demand that our trade unions campaign for and secure a Yes vote in a national ballot for strike action
- But more important is to build support on all sites so that if action is taken at one site, it can and will spread
What are we fighting for?
- The bosses will always go for the cheapest labour, unless we stop them
- We need to demonstrate and strike to win trade union control over job allocation, pay rates, and terms and conditions
- Trade unions should register all local unemployed construction worker union members and demand jobs on local sites
- Trade unions should have access to all foreign workers, with translators, to appeal for them to join a union and have oversight that NAECI pay rates and terms and conditions are being adhered to, and that there is no dilution of the workforce on the grounds of ‘skills ratio’ or ‘health and safety’
- Trade unions should demand a ratio of apprenticeships to be taken on at every site in addition to the jobs advertised, to train a new generation of skilled workers and ensure a future in the industry for our kids
This version of this article was first posted on the Socialist Party website on 29 March 2017 and may vary slightly from the version subsequently printed in The Socialist.