‘FROM the moment Total and their contractors dismissed our members at Lindsey, this became an official dispute.’
So said GMB General Secretary Paul Kenny, addressing a 2,000-strong rally of sacked Lindsey contractors and their supporters yesterday.
Kenny added: ‘They talk about an official ballot, but as far as I’m concerned, when they sacked the workforce, it was a case of victimisation.’
He continued: ‘We are just weeks away from a national ballot.
‘The tactic of the employers was to split the workforce.
‘But the GMB is putting £100,000 into a hardship fund to make sure nobody is starved back to work.’
Kenny said earlier: ‘This is where we stand to fight for our agreement and our jobs.’
He added: ‘Total didn’t want to talk, they wanted to break the unions and break the agreement.
‘Each stage has been based on their judgement on whether they could break the unions.
‘The 5.00pm deadline to sack workers was a gamble. It failed.’
He also added: ‘We have to dig in for a long dispute.’
Tony Ryan, Unite shop steward, chaired the rally.
He said: ‘We are all together and the unions have made this dispute official.’
Unite shop steward Kenny Ward said: ‘We’d like to thank everyone on behalf of the Lindsey sacked workers for coming here today.
‘We need to continue. The rest of the UK is supporting us directly and indirectly. The eyes of the world are looking down on Lindsey.
‘The 647 brave men deserve a round of applause.
‘The reason we are here is because the employers are trying to smash the national agreement.
‘They are using the employment laws to beat us as well, laws that the Labour government promised to repeal.
‘The employers intend to sack workforces in their entirety so they can bring in cheap foreign workers.
‘They’re not interested in their social responsibility to the community and to the country.
‘We won’t take it any more. The fight is on.’
Unite official Tom Hardacre said: ‘Your solidarity sends out a message to the gaffers.
‘Every organised site throughout the UK is involved in this, one way or another.’
He added: ‘Behind the scenes, we’ve been trying to get talks with the employers.
‘Today in London, there is a meeting.
‘But everyone who has been sacked has to be reinstated and restored to their jobs before there can be negotiations.’
Phil White of the GMB told the rally: ‘We’ve got to stick together.
‘People have come from all over the country to support us.
‘If one man is sacked, the whole country should support them.
‘We want to talk to Total, but it’s all out and all back together.’
Matt Wrack, general secretary of the Fire Brigades Union, brought the support of his union, telling the rally: ‘Firefighters are working people the same as you. They are trade unionists the same as you.
‘Trade unionism is about sticking together.
‘If there are laws that stop workers from acting together, then there’s something wrong with those laws and those laws should go.
‘The bankers are getting a bail-out with millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money.
‘Where’s the bail-out for the workers?
‘I hope the whole trade union movement will rally to support the Lindsey workers.
‘You’ve got that pledge from us today.’