|The News Line: News
Thursday, 22 September 2011
SPARKS BATTLE 35% WAGE CUT
MORE than 200 construction workers fighting 35 per cent pay cuts demonstrated on the Crossrail site at Farringdon Street in central London yesterday, brushing past security personnel who tried to bar their entry.
|Construction workers demonstrating on the Crossrail site at Farringdon yesterday against plans to tear up their industry agreements
They are demanding an immediate national strike ballot from Unite against the contractor at Farringdon, Crown House, and seven other major construction companies which are attempting to tear up the Joint Industry Board (JIB) agreement and impose semi-skilled grades into the mechanical and electrical sector.
Workers employed in five of the eight companies have been written to by managers demanding they sign new contracts on much inferior pay and terms and conditions or face the sack on December 7th.
The five companies are Balfour Beatty, Crown House Technologies, Spie Matthew Hall, Shepherd Engineering Services and NG Bailey.
Yesterday’s demonstration began with a rally at 6.30am at Farringdon Station.
Unite officer Alan Keys told the rally: ‘Unite the union must organise a national ballot of all construction workers.’
John McDonnell MP said: ‘This dispute is absolutely critical to the whole labour and trade union movement.
‘We’ve got to win this dispute and we can win it by holding a ballot and bringing people out across the country.’
Unite Assistant General Secretary Gail Cartmel said: ‘I met with our general secretary, Len McCluskey, last night and we discussed an industrial action ballot and we have got to get a move on.
‘We are determined to ballot as soon as possible.’
Harry Coulap, Unite London Region Officer, said: ‘This is a fight that has to be won and will be won.
‘We have had the JIB agreement since 1968 and if any changes have to be made it has to be done with agreement.’
After hearing the speeches at Farringdon Station, the angry workers marched a quarter of a mile to the Crossrail site, where they walked straight in.
They rallied for over 30 minutes on the site, hearing speeches from union officers and reps condemning the employers’ plans to tear up the JIB agreement and demanding Unite organises an immediate national strike ballot to defeat the attack.
Michael Dooley, Ucatt general secretary candidate, said: ‘We have showed them today that the sparks are the wrong ones to pick on.
‘We won’t allow the bosses to have their way.’
Steve Kelly, Unite London branch secretary, said: ‘We’re standing together. Union power is back and this is the start of it.’
Carpenter Sean Prophet told the rally: ‘We’ve just heard that today our colleagues in Newcastle have blocked the Tyne Tunnel, 200 sparks have demonstrated at Crossrail.
‘The time has gone when they can just sack us. We’re going to strike, whether Unite calls it or not.’
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