THE provocative sacking of over 650 workers at the Lindsey Oil Refinery – who walked out to demand that a recently negotiated trade union agreement be carried out, to transfer 51 redundant workers to another contractor on the site who had 61 vacancies – is an attack on the entire trade union movement, and trade unionism itself.
The management diktat and ultimatum that all 650 would have to reapply for their job by yesterday early evening (5pm) was an attempt to intimidate and begin the breaking of trade unionism in engineering construction, in the oil refineries and the power stations.
The workers, however, stood by their principles and treated the bosses’ ultimatum with the contempt it deserved. They refused to be intimidated and they refused to capitulate.
The GMB trade union stated yesterday about the 51 redundancies: ‘There was never any intention to redeploy these workers despite the company agreeing to do this just a few short weeks ago. It is little wonder that the workforce castigate the company as being dishonest. This is a clear case of victimisation on a par with the notorious industry blacklists.’
The union found that two senior managers, Richard Rowlands and Ian Elliot, instructed a contractor on site, R Blackett and Charlton, to hire 61 new workers although they knew that the original contractor Shaw was about to make 51 workers, doing exactly the same jobs, redundant three days later.
The GMB claims that Richard Rowlands and Ian Elliot did this deliberately in breach of agreements and accuse them of provoking the unofficial disputes in the engineering construction industry.
Rowlands told the GMB that he was not prepared to recommend to R Blackett and Charlton ‘an unruly workforce who had taken part in unofficial disputes and who won’t work weekends.’
Now hundreds of workers have burnt their dismissal notices and many hundreds of workers have stopped work in sympathy in engineering construction throughout power stations and oil refineries all over the UK.
This is a planned battle. With unemployment moving rapidly to 3 million and beyond, the bosses have decided that this is the right time to mount an offensive to drive trade union terms and conditions out of the engineering construction industry.
The working class has now got its back to the wall.
There is no point in looking towards the Brown government since it only has eyes for the bankers and the bosses.
This has been confirmed with the news that the Royal Bank of Scotland, now 70 per cent government owned, has approved a pay package worth up to £9.6m for its chief executive Stephen Hester.
The remuneration deal was agreed on Friday by RBS chairman Sir Philip Hampton and its leading shareholders. One of the groups represented was UK Financial Investments, which manages the 70% stake in RBS held by taxpayers.
This is where the Brown government stands, with the rich and powerful and against the workers.
The battle at Lindsey power station is therefore a battle that must be won.
Everything that is necessary to win it must be done, before the plague of union busting, that traditionally accompanies mass unemployment really gets going, and we’re left eating grass.
The key to winning this dispute is to stop the power stations and the oil refineries, and to bring the country to a standstill.
This will be a giant step to mobilising the whole of the working class for a general strike to bring down the Brown government and to bring in a workers government that will carry out socialist policies, namely nationalising the banks and the major industries under workers control and bringing in socialism.
This is the way forward. This is what has to be done.