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From The Socialist newspaper, 30 June 2009

"We came out with Lindsey and we'll go back with Lindsey"

Construction workers at Fiddlers Ferry in Widnes stayed out all last week in support of the Lindsey workers. Morale dropped a bit on Wednesday as news filtered through that Sellafield had returned to work, especially as some workers received their repudiation notices from Unite that morning. Some workers were commenting that they were "out on a limb" if the action was unofficial.

A Warrington trades council delegate

However, they stayed firm and on Thursday the news that Coryton in Essex had joined, and that some Sellafield workers had come back out, and also the strong support from GMB lifted spirits. And there was some good news - local Unite officials had won an employment tribunal stemming from a previous dispute at the site, which led to the dismissal of four men. The tribunal had ruled for their reinstatement.

On Friday morning the news reports were all the same - firstly Michael Jackson's sad death, and second, that a settlement was in view for Lindsey. It was very noticeable that by lunchtime the settlement at Lindsey had been more or less censored out of the news reports.

We then waited from 7am to 9am when the stewards got the confirmation news from Lindsey. A gate meeting was convened and one of the visiting Lindsey stewards gave a short but very effective speech thanking the lads, reminding them what they were all fighting for. He thanked Fiddlers Ferry especially as one of the first sites to support Lindsey.

Local stewards advised the men to be back Monday morning at 7am, ready for work. "We came out with Lindsey and we'll go back with Lindsey".

On Monday morning at 7am the workers assembled at the gate. Messages arrived from Lindsey and the GMB members returned. However the electricians, Unite members, still had disputes concerning outstanding unpaid hours and the reinstatements ordered by the tribunal.

The confusion arises from their status as agency workers for sub-contractors, and their return to work was delayed, as the main contractors, the subbies and the employment agencies attempted to shift responsibilities between each other.

The GMB members are directly employed by their companies, but the electricians are employed through agencies. One of the men told me how sometimes you cannot be sure who your employer (in a legal sense) actually is.

Phone calls were made but no definite news emerged and the Unite full-time official was called in for talks. Eventually about 11am the electricians went back in having secured the reinstatements. It was a messy end to the dispute which just shows the difficulties created for working people by this crazy system of sub-contracting and agency labour.


"Bugger all wrong with spontaneity"

GMB official John Wilson spoke to the meeting just before LOR construction workers voted unanimously to return to work with every demand won. He said that the men should be proud of what they had achieved. Regarding the unofficial strike action he stated: "there's bugger all wrong with spontaneity".

Janet Gibson

The men marched back to work with the GMB trade union banner leading the way and with Unite flags flying. The lads marched from the meeting at the car park, turned right onto the main road stopping the traffic, and then took a victorious sharp turn to the left and marched to the LOR gateway. They faced the TV cameras singing their victorious song: "Here we go! Here we go! Here we go!"

Singing, I accompanied my husband to the LOR gates, where we stopped to applaud the rest of the 'wildcat strikers'. They triumphantly marched in solidarity back to work smiling, with a resolute manner.

The lads shouted their thanks to us, the women who had supported their stance and as I kissed my husband and watched him enter the LOR gates with John McEwan I turned to his partner Pat and together we proudly marched back down the road.

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In The Socialist 30 June 2009:

Militant action pays!


Youth fight for jobs

Decent jobs not poverty schemes!


Socialist Party editorial

Victories show the way forward for struggles

Total's fat fingers in every pie

"We came out with Lindsey and we'll go back with Lindsey"


Socialist Party campaigns

New Labour's house building plans amount to just a drop in the ocean

Pride not profit - London Pride Saturday 4 July

Crisis looms in FE colleges

Tower Hamlets demo

Councils try to gag us

Campaign to save Lewisham Bridge school continuing

Fast news

BNP: Looking beneath the suits


National Shop Stewards Network

National Shop Stewards Network Conference Confident and enthusiastic


Socialist Party Marxist analysis

25 years ago: Liverpool - a city that dared to fight


Workplace news and events

Glasgow council: Social work dept staff start all-out strike

Justice for the Shrewsbury pickets march and rally

Construction industry in major crisis


 

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Related links:

Lindsey:

triangleLiverpool Socialist Party: Lessons of the 2009 Lindsey Refinery strike

triangleSpied on by the state and bosses

triangleWorkers' Memorial Day: strike for safety

triangleOil Refinery workers protest

triangleConstruction workers strike to defend agreements

Unite:

triangleWorkplace news in brief

triangleBlairite Birmingham steps up union-busting and two workforces plan strikes

triangleCammell Laird shipbuilding workers strike against job cuts on merseyside

triangleCammell Lairds shipbuilding workers walk out

GMB:

triangleBritish Gas workers need rank-and-file leadership

triangleCouncil workers - historic strike for equal pay

triangleStrike raises pay at Liverpool airport

LOR:

triangleSaltend dispute: lessons for future struggles

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