STOP THE COUNTRY! – to beat union busters

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Engineers and construction workers demonstrated in Parliament Square during the February dispute in the industry
Engineers and construction workers demonstrated in Parliament Square during the February dispute in the industry

The GMB trade union yesterday accused senior managers of provoking the unofficial dispute at Lindsey oil refinery by the sacking of 51 workers in breach of agreements.

This accusation came as the unions, including GMB, prepared for a protest demonstration/rally outside the site at Eastfield Road, Immingham, from 6.30am onwards today.

Union branches have been invited to bring their banners, and trades union and labour movement speakers have been invited.

The GMB said yesterday: ‘It is clear from what Richard Rowlands told the union that there never was any intention to redeploy these workers despite the company agreeing to do this just a few short weeks ago.’

The GMB revealed that two senior managers at Lindsey Oil Refinery site, 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 were 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 accused them of ‘provoking the unofficial disputes in the engineering construction industry’.

Its statement added: ‘R Blackett and Charlton were brought on site in spring 2009 to be the employer for the 105 new jobs that were created as part of the ACAS brokered deal in the spring.

‘Laying off these 51 workers is in breach of an agreement by Total and the main contractors Jacobs that no workers on the site would lose their jobs as a consequence of IREM taking over part of the work undertaken by the Shaw workers.

‘It was also in breach of the industry-wide agreement whereby the Project Joint Council for Lindsey Oil Refinery site, which is co-chaired by Jacobs, organises the movement of labour on the site throughout the life of the project.

‘The trade unions on the site confronted Richard Rowlands and asked him why Jacobs had not requested that R Blackett and Charlton transfer the 51 Shaw workers across as required by the two agreements referred to above.

‘He replied on the record to the trade union officials 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”.’

Phil Davies, GMB National Secretary, who will be attending today’s protest demonstration, alleged yesterday: ‘Every stone you uncover on this job you find another management lie.

‘It is clear from what Richard Rowlands told the union that there never was 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.’

Yesterday morning, the 650 sacked Lindsey workers burned dozens of dismissal letters in a mass protest.

Workers across the UK have walked out in sympathy. They include: 900 contract workers at Sellafield in Cumbria; 400 workers at South Hook and Dragon LNG plants in west Wales; 200 contractors at Aberthaw power station in the Vale of Glamorgan, south Wales.

Also out are 200 contractors at Drax and Eggborough power stations near Selby, North Yorkshire; workers at Fiddlers Ferry power station in Widnes and contract maintenance workers at the Shell Stanlow Refinery in Ellesmere Port, Cheshire.

Sixty contract maintenance workers at Didcot A power station in Oxfordshire are out as well as more than 1,000 workers at the Ensus biofuel site in Wilton, Teesside.

Shop stewards said they expect thousands of workers to take action in the coming days in support of the sacked workers.

Dave Wiltshire, secretary of the All Trades Union Alliance told News Line: ‘There is only one way that workers can win this struggle and that is to use their power to stop the country.

‘We need to bring the Brown government down and to bring in a workers government that will carry out socialist policies and nationalise the major industries under workers control.’