Unite prepares to ballot members employed by ‘ringleader’ of rogue employers


Construction workers will today be protesting at Govan shipyard in Glasgow over the de-skilling and pay cuts being imposed by a group of rogue construction firms.

Unite is preparing to ballot its members in Balfour Beatty Engineering Services for industrial action. The strike ballot follows Balfour Beatty’s failure to step back from imposing contractual changes which will see thousands of workers’ wages cut by one third.

Up to 100 construction workers will be staging their protest outside Govan shipyard, Govan Road between 6.30am and 8am. The shipyard has been targeted as Balfour Beatty is a major contractor on site.

In May this year Balfour Beatty Engineering Services, along with six other leading construction companies, informed Unite of its intention to withdraw from five long-standing agreements and impose new semi-skilled grades resulting in massive cuts in pay. The attack will hit electricians, plumbers and heating and ventilating engineers working at sites around Scotland, including the Vellodrome in Glasgow and Grangemouth power station.

Unite is balloting Balfour Beatty Engineering Services first as it believes the firm is acting as the `ring-leader’ of the break-away employers, with five firms out of the seven threatening to sack workers who refuse to sign the new and inferior contracts by a deadline of 7 December.

Unite regional officer Rab Sherry said: “We believe Balfour Beatty is the main aggressor among a group of companies trying to bully their workers into signing away their livelihoods. Construction workers in Scotland cannot afford to take massive pay cuts that these firms are proposing.”

The timescale for the ballot with Balfour Beatty has yet to be confirmed and the locations of strikes will be decided in due course. The union has also said that the threat of dismissal must be removed before meaningful discussions can take place. The other six companies will be balloted in the next phase of Unite’s fight to defend its members.

Rab Sherry said: “Unite is not opposed to change, but change needs to be negotiated not imposed. Construction workers are furious at this attack on their skills and have asked Unite to hold a ballot, so they can defend their skills and pay and earn a living wage for their families.”

The protest outside Govan shipyard is not a call for unofficial strike action by Unite. It is Unite’s understanding that those involved in the demonstrations are doing so outside of work hours to avoid any suggestion that this is unofficial strike action.

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