Most widespread action so far expected at Balfour Beatty sites across the UK with mass protest scheduled outside rogue company’s head office
Thousands of electricians and supporters are today expected to join a wave of mass protests and blockades at major construction sites across the UK.
Rank and file organisers of the four-month campaign against “sign or be sacked” contracts believe it could be the angriest day of unofficial action so far, with protests planned at the SSI steel works in Hartlepool, Cardiff Hospital, St Catherine’s Hospital in Birkenhead, London’s Crossrail site at Blackfriars and Balfour Beatty’s head office in outside Glasgow.
Activists have called for hundreds of electricians and supporters to gather at the Blackfriars station site. UnionNews also understands that sparks from Balfour Beatty sites across Scotland are planning to stay away from work in order to join the lobby at the company’s head office.
Unite members at Balfour Beatty Engineering Services last month voted by 81% for strike action, but the company has cited anti-union laws to challenge the ballot. Unite is preparing to to re-ballot BBES along with two other companies which it says have threatened to pull out of the JIB agreements which have covered pay, skills and safety levels in the sector for four decades.
Sparks say the new contracts – which were originally scheduled to be enforced from today – will mean pay cuts of 35% across the industry.
Unite is at pains to stress that it is not calling for unofficial strike action. In a statement, the union says: “It is Unite’s understanding that those involved in the demonstrations are doing so outside of work hours”.
Officials have approached the conciliation service ACAS to try to seek detailed talks with the seven rogue employers.
The companies have postponed until next month their deadline for sparks to sign the so-called BESNA contracts, however, Unite national officer Bernard McAulay said: “It is time for these companies to get back around the negotiating table. They need to talk to Unite instead of imposing new inferior contracts on workers who have made it abundantly clear that they do not want them.
“Unite wants these employers to think again and abandon the move to impose new contracts. The union has asked Acas for their help and has called on employers to get back round the table.”
Watch our film report on Saturday’s march by sparks and occupation of a NG Bailey site in Glasgow:
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