The union warns that industrial action could hit some of the UK’s key infrastructure projects next year

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Unite has given legal notice that it is re-balloting members in Balfour Beatty for strike action in the latest stage of the long-running dispute over “sign or be sacked” contracts.

The union warns that industrial action could hit some of the UK’s key infrastructure projects next year, including power stations and Crossrail.

Unite said that the seven construction firms had walked away from the prospect of an ACAS-brokered deal because the so-called BESNA companies had refused to withdraw a threat to sack 6,000 workers if they do not sign the contracts.

Unite members in Balfour Beatty Engineering Services (BBES) last month voted by more than 80 per cent in favour of strike action, but the company threatened to use anti-union laws to challenge the ballot.

Thousands of construction workers and supporters  defied the decision by walking off jobs and blockading sites across the UK earlier this month, from Crossrail stations in London, power stations in the Midlands and Cumbria, to oil refineries in Lincolnshire and central Scotland.

Watch our film report on recent action here:

Further, similar protests followed last week, as parallel industrial action hit a number of sites in a dispute over the NAECI or “Blue Book” agreement, which figured heavily in the 2009 walkouts at the Lindsey oil refinery.

However, rank and file activists believe Balfour Beatty is already attempting to undermine the new vote by transferring workers to different sites at short notice. In the past, employers have successfully argued in court that providing incorrect details of the workplaces of small numbers of individual made a ballot for industrial action invalid. More details here 

Unite says the new contracts – bosses have told members they must sign by January 12th – will attack conditions and skill levels for electricians, plumbers, heating and ventilation engineers.  The union calculates that the contracts will force through 35% cuts to pay and benefits.

The ballot is to begin early in the New Year. The sparks’ national Rank and File Committee has called for a day of action on 9th January.


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