Power Workers Call For National Jobs Action

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Construction workers picketing outside the Isle of Grain power station in Kent yesterday morning
Construction workers picketing outside the Isle of Grain power station in Kent yesterday morning

Over fifty power industry construction workers demonstrating outside the Isle of Grain power station in Kent yesterday morning demanded national action to defend jobs and trade union wages and conditions.

Unite member Jimmy Collins said: ‘I do think it’s all wrong. I’m out of work. They are putting a local job down here with 90 Polish workers and I can’t get a job. Do you think that’s right?

‘The unions should stop the lot – this wouldn’t happen in France, they don’t take any nonsense out there.’

Amicus member, steel erector Roger Booth added: ‘We should get everybody out. It’s got to go national, it’s the only way, stop the lot.

‘If that means bringing down the government, we’ll have to do it if the government are not going to back us.’

Unite member Bill, a skilled electrician told News Line: ‘I’m currently out of work like most of the lads here.

‘We’re protesting about British jobs for British workers. We want jobs for skilled workers at the trade union rate.’

Richard Clarke, Unite national apprenticeship officer for construction said: ‘This is about stopping the discrimination against both local and national skilled labour, and against the exploitation of non-UK labour.’

Bill added: ‘This is about undercutting and cheap labour. The Portuguese lads that came over to Lindsey (oil refinery, Lincolnshire) have admitted that they were paid 1,000 euros a month less.

‘They were put on a 50 hour week, which would put them on £5 an hour less than the national agreement demands.’

Electrician and Unite member Bill Vee warned: ‘This will go all the way through the country if we don’t stop it now.’

Nick Irven, a steel erector from Folkestone, said: ‘This is Kent. We’re from Kent and we should be building this gas plant.

‘(French owners) Alstom are using cheap labour. They should be using local labour at the proper rate.

‘We fought for years for these union agreements and we have to defend them.

‘They should call national action over this – call everybody out.’

A similar protest also took place outside the Staythorpe power station in Nottinghamshire yesterday morning.

Later, Unite joint general secretary Derek Simpson, led a delegation to deliver a petition to Number 10, Downing Street.

Following the delivery of the petition, construction workers met with MPs and Peers in the Houses of Parliament to put forward their case.

News Line spoke to a group of power workers in Parliament Square.

Gordon Turner, a Unite shop steward at Torness nuclear power station, East Lothian, said: ‘We’re here to lobby our MPs. We want a level playing field for jobs.

‘There is lots of engineering and construction work due to start. At present, the lads are not getting a fair crack of the whip.

‘We’re not against European workers, we just want to be allowed to apply for the jobs that are going.

‘We are against the exploitation of European workers who are being used as cheap labour. It may come to a national strike yet.’

Grangemouth refinery Unite shop steward Kenny Smith added: ‘It’s social dumping. They are undermining our national agreements – it’s cheap labour.’