Thousands of electricians facing the imposition of 35% pay cuts or the threat of redundancy descend on London’s financial district today in a major escalation of action against Balfour Beatty and six other breakaway construction firms. The day of actio …
Thousands of electricians facing the imposition of 35% pay cuts or the threat of redundancy descend on London’s financial district today in a major escalation of action against Balfour Beatty and six other breakaway construction firms.
The day of action is expected to begin with an unofficial, pre-dawn blockade at the construction site for what will be Europe’s second tallest building, The Pinnacle Tower.
Rank and file activists have been calling on Unite to name the start-date for a planned ballot of some 1,600 Balfour Beatty workers at four sites across the UK.
At some previous demonstrations, protesters have attempted to blockade or invade construction sites to express their anger to site managers. Unite officials have repeatedly been refused access to sites across the UK, or allowed to meet workers on-site to explain the union’s concerns about the “sign or be sacked” contracts which the firms are threatening to impose on 7th of December.
Sparks and supporters are later due to hold an official rally at The Shard construction site, near London Bridge. The demonstration continues with a march along the Embankment and a lobby of MPs at Westminster. A second demonstration is taking place in Edinburgh, concluding with a lobby of the Scottish Parliament.
The day of action is the culmination of three months of protests, involving thousands of electricians, outside construction sites, power stations, oil refineries, nuclear plants and other projects from Scotland and Cumbria, to Lincolnshire and London.
Speaking ahead of the rally at The Shard, Unite General Secretary Len McCluskey said: “if Balfour Beatty and their fellow conspirators get their way, eight out of nine workers will lose one third of their pay and will lose any voice they have over their working lives.
“These employers have threatened to sack any worker who does not sign up to their employers’ ‘charter’.
“Unite members have shown that they are not going to sign away their future livelihoods. Our members have been demanding a ballot so that they can defend their skills and pay. They have families to support and mortgages to pay and simply cannot afford to hand over a third of their pay to maintain the profits of their bosses.”
Today’s event coincides with separate demonstrations across London by students and members of the #OccupyLSX protest outside St Paul’s Cathedral.
There is growing anger over an attack by Balfour Beatty Engineering Services, along with six other firms, to withdraw from five long-standing agreements covering safety and skill levels which will result in the 35% pay cuts. Critics fear the new regime will also stifle training and apprenticeships if it is imposed as the companies currently intend.
The seven breakaway contractors involved are: Balfour Beatty Engineering Services Limited; NG Bailey Building Services; Crown House Technologies; Gratte Brothers; Spie Matthew Hall; Shepherd Engineering Services (SES); and T. Clarke Plc.
Watch our film report on the background to today’s protest here: http://union-news.co.uk/2011/11/video-sparks-action-stations-students-streets/
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