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Posted on 26 May 2021 at 16:13 GMT

Reading, 26.5.21: Standing with the #Sparks blockading #AWE in fight against de-skilling #No2ESO, photo RW

Reading, 26.5.21: Standing with the #Sparks blockading #AWE in fight against de-skilling #No2ESO, photo RW   (Click to enlarge)

Sparks blockade AWE to stop de-skilling

Construction electricians stepped up their fight against de-skilling by converging from all areas of the country to AWE Burghfield, which assembles nuclear warheads.

NG Baileys, who have a contract there, is the main company pushing the Electrical Service Operator (ESO) grade. This would mean opening up 70% of the work of time-served skilled construction electricians to cheaper unskilled labour.

As with the BESNA a decade ago, their motivation is to slash the Sparks' wages and look to spread this version of 'fire and hire' through the construction industry.

The Sparks blockaded the main gate at AWE, pushing past the area that the police would 'allow'. The staff cars were then diverted to the other gate where they met another group of protesting workers.

Sparks on the Baileys contract refused to pass the protest line. They were emboldened by the protests and drove around in a cavalcade, beeping their horns.

Along with the Sparks' blockade, this helped cause a massive tailback of traffic that took two hours to clear.

This was the 14th week of this struggle but it represents a step change in the fight against de-skilling.

This and other Baileys sites are being targeted, and the full range of tactics should be used, official strike ballots, protests and unofficial action, backed by a leverage campaign. That was the strategy that defeated the BESNA.

The Sparks aren't going away until the ESO is well and truly off the table.

Rob Williams

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The coronavirus crisis has laid bare the class character of society in numerous ways. It is making clear to many that it is the working class that keeps society running, not the CEOs of major corporations.

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The government has now ripped up its 'austerity' mantra and turned to policies that not long ago were denounced as socialist. But after the corona crisis, it will try to make the working class pay for it, by trying to claw back what has been given.

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