Announcement of any strike date delayed by Balfour challenging 2nd ballot result in court next week
Unite electricians and supporters have begun a new round of demonstrations – focused on the Blackfriars station construction project in London – following Thursday’s announcement that sparks have voted by 66% to strike against the “sign or be sacked” contracts being imposed by the construction giant, Balfour Beatty.
The union will not issue a strike call until after a court hearing on 7th February at which the company is seeking an injunction under anti-union legislation to prevent industrial action going ahead.
In the second such vote in as many months, electricians, plumbers, heating and ventilating engineers voted by two to one for strike action which could hit high profile projects and sites such as the £15.9 billion Crossrail project in London, as well as key maintenance work at the Sellafield nuclear power station and Grangemouth oil refinery in central Scotland.
Unite says Balfour Beatty is the ringleader of a gang of seven breakaway employers who want to impose new semi-skilled grades which will lead to cuts in sparks’ pay and allowances worth up to 35%.
The union has learnt that the company intends to maintain a small core workforce of skilled trades and bring in semi-skilled agency labour.
Unite national officer Bernard McAulay said: “This high ‘yes’ vote for strike action indicates the resentment felt by our members. They are enraged over the use of bully-boy tactics as well as massive pay cuts.
“Balfour Beatty needs to recognise it has lost the support of its employees. The company needs to re-join the industry wide agreements which have served the industry so well. Our members know that Balfour Beatty has no need whatsoever to rob them of their livelihoods so that it can increase its profits.”
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