Electricians join further protest against threat by rogue employers to undermine safety, pay on major construction projects


Dozens of electricians and other workers have taken part in the latest of a continuing series of protests against the attempt by rogue employers to abandon long-held national agreements in the construction sector.

Unite members and supporters lobbied Edinburgh City Council headquarters, where the local authority is considering awarding the contract to build a new school in the city to Balfour Beatty, which is attempting to cut pay rates, skill levels and other conditions by forcing workers to sign new contracts by December or face the sack.

Balfour Beatty and seven other breakaway companies want to de-skill large parts of the industry, according to Unite’s Regional Officer Scott Foley, who led Thursday’s action. “It beggars belief,” he told UnionNews, “that a project could be awarded which doesn’t put safety and a skilled workforce at the forefront and there’s no better example of where you need properly skilled people than in building a school.”

The Labour opposition leader on the council, Andrew Burns (above, centre, speaking to the Unite delegation at Edinburgh City Chambers) said the union was raising “quite proper concerns” about the award of the contract to build the new Portobello High School to Balfour Beatty. “I share those concerns,” he told UnionNews. “It wasn’t until Unite raised this issue with us that we realised there was such significant concern.”

Further actions by Unite members are planned in the campaign to halt the threatened withdrawal by the employers from five national agreements.  Next Monday, 26th September, workers facing up to 30 per cent pay cuts are planning to demonstrate outside the Lindsey Oil Refinery in North Lincolnshire, with protests scheduled for Wednesday at King’s Cross station in London and the Commonwealth Games Velodrome in Glasgow.

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