Rank and file organisers step up protests across the UK as Unite awaits High Court ruling on whether Balfour Beatty strike is lawful


Construction workers are staging a rolling programme of demonstrations against disputed “sign or be sacked” contracts drawn up by the self-appointed BESNA group of companies, which includes Balfour Beatty.

Action is due to get underway this morning at the Conoco Philips refinery in North Lincolnshire (an earlier demonstration, pictured) in protest against plans by seven firms to cut pay and allowances by up to 35% and deskill their workforces.

Sparks have organised a demonstration outside the Electrical Contractors Association annual dinner at the Grosvenor House Hotel in London this evening.

A string of further protests at construction and maintenance projects across the UK which are linked to the seven breakaway companies are also planned for the coming days.

It comes as Unite awaits a High Court ruling, expected on Thursday, on whether Balfour Beatty has secured an injunction to prevent industrial action at the company.

In a ballot last month, 67% voted for strike action. Unite had agreed not to nominate any dates for action pending the outcome of the case.

Rank and file organisers of a six-month campaign of unofficial action have welcomed a letter from the US Teamsters union which demands “that the management of Balfour Beatty Engineering Services change course”.

We are committed to provide full backing of the Teamsters for the duration of this dispute,” writes Teamsters President James Hoffa

“We are also in contact with our sister unions in the United States who share our concerns. If this dispute is not resolved we will have no option but to demonstrate our support. I am sure that neither of us would welcome this development.

Unite says workers are angry at plans by Balfour Beatty and the six breakaway firms for imposing reduced-skill grades and cutting pay and allowances. The employers want to have the new arrangements in place by April.

Unite’s national officer, Bernard McAulay said: Our members are rightly angry. We want discussions with all stakeholders in the industry. Unite supports modernisation and improving the industry, but this is a power grab, with the workers taking all the pain.”

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