Organise and fight back!

Across our Manchester sky line, numerous tower cranes stand testimony to the billion pound construction industry. Yet behind the perimeter fencing is a world of rogue employers flourishing on PFI-financed and government-funded sites.

Steve Acheson, EPIU-Unite steward and branch secretary, personal capacity.

A huge £2 million theft of holiday entitlement has become the annual norm of employers. These companies freely work illegally without any redress.

Many workers are forced to work on an enforced self-employment basis. Bogus self-employment is especially prevalent in the electrical industry, consequently employers’ National Insurance payments are evaded on a massive scale.

Union reps are thrown off site unlawfully, so removing any defence of workers’ rights. This gives the employers carte blanche to arbitrarily sack any workers seeking justice in the workplace.

An aggressive nature is a better qualification than competence for supervision. So window cleaners, holiday reps, debt collectors, etc are taking charge of workforces on various electrical contracts. If a union representative is permitted he will be under the control of the employer and will not be representative of workers’ interests.

The last 12 months has seen an acceleration of attacks by employers on workers’ rights. Contracts have been torn up and new detrimental working conditions have been imposed with scant regard for national agreements. This is happening in nearly every industry and will continue until we organise and fight back.

The usual rhetoric from the trade union leaders needs to be backed with action, and these leaders need to lead. The unions are so preoccupied with avoiding the sequestration of funds and assets, they have forgotten their biggest asset is the membership.

Membership is secured on the back of union victories and strong representation, not the present capitulation with too much reliance placed on the legal system.

We intend to bring an end to the 40 years of interference by the Electrical Contractors’ Association in our unions. We reserve the right to elect our representatives and want no more cosy alliances between stooge representatives and the employers.