Electricians protest against pay cuts - updates and discussion

Electricians on wildcat strike

Update and discussion thread about the UK-wide demonstrations and mostly wildcat strikes of electricians (nicknamed "sparks") against deskilling and pay cuts of up to 35% across much of the industry.

From North East Shop Stewards Network:

Quote:
"In a virtual declaration of war, Balfour Beaty Engineering Services has today issued 90 day Notices of termination to 890 of their workforce"...
"This morning [wed 14th sept] Civil disobedience took centre stage. Co-ordinated unofficial industrial action kicked off at major construction projects across the country. Electricians and Pipe-fitters working for Balfour Beatty Engineering Services at Grangemouth in Scotland walked off the job. In London, police were forced to intervene after 150 electricians blocked the main entrance to the Olympics site causing rush hour travel chaos with vehicles backing up around the A12 Bow Flyover. Further action also took place at Balfour Beatty’s Papermill site in Manchester.
Yesterday the major electrical employers sent new contracts (with a 35% pay cut) to their staff with an ultimatum that anyone who did not sign them by 7th December would be sacked.
The dispute has been sparked after eight major electrical contractors announced their intention to withdraw from the Joint Industry Board (JIB) national industry agreement. They are Bailey Building Services, Balfour Beatty Engineering Services, Tommy Clarke, Crown House Technologies, Gratte Brothers, MJN Colston, SES and SPIE Matthew Hall.
The employers propose 3 new grades for electicians: metalworker £10.50 per hour, Wiring £12, Terminating £14. The current electricains JIB rate is £16.25p per hour across the board. For the worst hit this amounts to a 35% pay cut.
Meanwhile, the chief executive of Balfour Beatty, one of the contractors, had given himself an 8% pay rise last year"...
"Contact:

"

I think theres a demo in newcastle/the north east this wednesday morning but not sure exactly when or where.

Comments

alan on tyneside
Sep 19 2011 13:56
Quote:
I think theres a demo in newcastle/the north east this wednesday morning but not sure exactly when or where.

6.30am, (or poss. earlier), on Wednesday. Tyne Tunnel, (presumably the site entrance). Some of us will be there. More info on our riseup email list, but I'll pm you when I know more details later tonight. wink

fingers malone
Sep 19 2011 14:34

The London one is this Wednesday, Farringdon at 6:30 am. Last one at the Olympic site was pretty good, blocked the road for a while.

AIW
Sep 20 2011 14:51
Quote:
Unite Construction Rank and File

Let’s answer the TUC’s call last week for "Civil Disobedience" against the cuts.
8th December is the day sparks could be working for £10.50p an hour. BBES have said to 890 of their workers sign the new contract by 7th December if you don’t you are down the road.
This is serious stuff they mean business that’s for sure, Unite needs to be organising a ballot of all BBES workers right now. Anyone not in the union should join online ASAP, as only members of Unite will receive a ballot paper.
A national strike is the answer, which can start after all 8 companies have been balloted. It’s no good having a meeting in December and then starting a ballot in January, the Xmas tree will be down, thousands will be on the dole and the rest of us working for £10,50 an hour or less if on an agency. Wake up Mr Bernard McAulay, get your arse into gear for crying out loud’!
Our protests and demo’s are building the union, spreading the word and laying the ground for a yes vote. Tonight [Monday] 60 sparks attended a branch meeting in Grimsby and decided to demonstrate at Lindsey Oil refinery next Monday. Last Friday night 70 sparks and fitters turned up for their meeting which was electric. The meeting decided to demonstrate this Wednesday at the Tyne Tunnel and also collected £210 for ‘site worker’.
Wednesday 21st September we will see the first ‘official’ Unite called protest which we are building for. It will mark 5th protest in London and the 12th around the country.
Unite have arrived at the party very late, the rank and file have led the way for our efforts we’ve been called scandalous names by Bernard McAuley shame on you pal, concentrate your energies on the real enemy................ that is the big 8, and get us that ballot.
These protests will carry on every week for as long as necessary but we also need walkouts on some large sites. Solidarity action across the country will undoubtedly bring this dispute to a head its needs to happen this week.
No more hanging around other trades and offshore workers should be encouraged to support.
Unite along with the other public sector unions are being balloted for a mass day of strike action on 30th November and fair play to them. So that’s a good date where thousands of sparks and fitters can join them on a national strike.
We should take this opportunity not just to defend the JIB agreement needs complete but to completely overhaul it. Why all the different rates for Scottish sparks, London sparks, and those outside M25 one rate for all £25 an hour any talks must involve elected workers from all regions and any deal put to a ballot this is our chance to get a good deal in place and why not do the same for NAEICI and WRA they are a pile of poo as well.
THE FIGHT HAS BEEN CALLED BY BBES LETS RESPOND IN THE BEST WAY POSSIBLE EVERYBODY OUT!
Keep on inundating Bernard McAulay with
emailsbernard.mcaulay@unitetheunion.org
demanding a date for the ballot.
Words are fine but Unite needs to be put under pressure to negotiate a proper deal for us. A ballot for strike action of all electricians, pipe-fitters and other trades would make that more likely. NO waiting until December Mr McAuley.
We must continue to force the issue and spread these actions across the
country............ Blockades, occupations, traffic jams and stuff until an agreement has been reached.

Rank and File protests planned so far……
London: 21st September 6.30am-8.30am Farringdon Station, Crown House site. Our 5th London demo Unites first official one
Manchester: Wednesday 21st September 6.30am Manchester town hall & Baileys site BBC Media City at 10am.
Newcastle: Wednesday 21st September: Meet at 6.30 am outside the Duke of Wellington also known as Sambucas then over to the Tyne Tunnel site to lobby the lads
Edinburgh: Thursday 22nd September. 9.00am outside City Chambers. The City Councillors will meet to confirm that Balfour Beatty has won the contract to build the new Portobello High School. Let’s teach them a lesson!
Glasgow: Wednesday 28th September 7.00am New Veladrome

Rank and File meetings...........
Glasgow: Saturday 24th September 10.00am: John Smith House
Newcastle: Monday 26th September 7pm Newcastle Labour club
Liverpool: Thursday 29th September 7pm-9pm Friends meeting House, 22 School Lane LI 3BT
Manchester: Saturday October 1st 12.00- 3pm Mechanics Institute 103 Princess Street M6 DD

Stop Press...............................................And finally [for now] some good
news:

1] Last week rank and file committee member Steve Acheson was elected on to the North West JIB. We need to look at getting other activists onto RISC, sector committees, to have a powerful voice for rank and file workers.
2] Unite have now agreed to revisit all the blacklisting cases on a misuse of data protection claims basis.
3] Steve kelly Unite Branch Secretary of london construction has been told he has a claim at European Court of human rights against the blacklist which may see him sue the Government for allowing it to happen.
Email us with ideas and let us know if you have actions planned
siteworkers@virginmedia.com

AIW
Sep 19 2011 22:07

If you can't get to one of the demonstrations you might want to do a flying picket of your nearest blue book (national agreement) site. Make films of the actions, get them on the internet and send a link to Reel News. The rank and file need to keep control now the officials are getting involved. It needs to be by industry rather than just the more skilled trades.

AIW
Sep 20 2011 14:49
Quote:
The sparks at BP Saltend have voted to lobby Conoco at Immingham on Monday the 26th at 6.15am.
AIW
Sep 21 2011 13:26

The Newcastle demo unfortunately didn't blockade anything this time.

AIW
Sep 21 2011 13:26

The Newcastle demo unfortunately didn't blockade anything this time.

Battlescarred
Sep 21 2011 13:59

site was occupied on token basis for about ten minutes, me and one solfed member were the only libertarians there as far as I could see. Next picket/demo is coming wednesday at 6.30 am at kings Cross. i think libertarians in london should make more of an effort to attend these.

Battlescarred
Sep 21 2011 15:19

yeah, ramona's comments in news are very welcome and i agree with most of what she said re relating to other workers

AIW
Sep 22 2011 14:54
Quote:
Protests

Edinburgh: Thursday 22nd September. 9.00am outside City Chambers. The City Councillors will meet to confirm that Balfour Beatty has won the contract to build the new Portobello High School. Let’s teach them a lesson!

Lindsey Conoco site: Monday 26th 6.15am 266 West Burton sparks voted to attend.

London: Wednesday 28th September 630am Kings X Station platform 10 and 11 main concourse

Glasgow: Wednesday 28th September 7.00am New Veladrome Commonwealth games Stadium.

Meetings

Glasgow: Saturday 24th September 10.00am: John Smith House.

Newcastle: Monday 26th September 7pm Newcastle Labour club.

Liverpool: Thursday 29th September 7pm-9pm Friends meeting House, 22 School Lane L1

Manchester: Saturday October 1st 12.00- 3pm Mechanics Institute 103 Princess St M6.

London: Tuesday 11th October 6.30pm Conway Hall, Red Lion Square, Holborn.

http://jerryhicks.wordpress.com/

T La Palli
Sep 22 2011 15:22

Went to protest at Edinburgh City Chambers. 20 odd workers, some from further afield, Glasgow and Fife. A couple of workers complaining of a "well you tell me how it went" attitude from colleagues. Bit of embarassment at the turnout in comparison to whats going on elsewhere. Those there seemed pretty determined in that there's "no choice but to fight against this".

T La Palli
Sep 22 2011 15:24

Went to protest at Edinburgh City Chambers. 20 odd workers, some from further afield, Glasgow and Fife. A couple of workers complaining of a "well you tell me how it went" attitude from colleagues. Bit of embarassment at the turnout in comparison to whats going on elsewhere. Those there seemed pretty determined in that there's "no choice but to fight against this".

AIW
Sep 24 2011 07:14

The Newcastle demo caused the Tyne Tunnel site to close till 10 with the workers on full pay!
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QEvtZKPMl2o
http://www.neanarchists.com/sparkies%2021-9-11.html

fingers malone
Sep 26 2011 09:21

Next London protest isn't Friday, it's Wednesday, at Kings Cross.

fingers malone
Sep 26 2011 14:58

From shopstewards.net:

September 26 construction industry electricians have taken unofficial strike action at Saltend and West Burton today over threats to cut JIB rates. These workers then took part in a 400 strong protest outside Lindsey Oil Refinery and Conoco Phillips on the Humber.

Anyone know more about this?

alan on tyneside
Sep 27 2011 19:34

Latest from Siteworker:

One of the 'Big eight' construction companies has already broken ranks:

Quote:
Taking matters into our own hands while we wait for the ballot has led to a massive breakthrough with MJN Colston announcing it will stay within the JIB agreement.

Lindsey Conoco, Humberside:

Quote:
Yesterday morning a couple of hundred sparks from West Burton protested outside the Lindsey Conoco site where they were joined by a delegation from the site of 150 sparks. Eventually the numbers swelled to over 500.

Rank & File action:

Quote:
In Newcastle last night [Monday] at an official Unite organised meeting 150 sparks elected ‘rank and filer’ Jimmy Warne to chair the meeting which was quickly followed by the election of a 4 person rank and file committee to
decide the next target/s for protests and demo’s.

URGENT: Everyone who can needs to get to Manchester this Saturday Oct 1st
12.00- 3pm at the Mechanics Institute 103 Princess St M6. To follow what
London and Newcastle have done by electing their own committees and deciding future actions.

Pressure on Unite:

Quote:
*Keep on inundating Unites National Construction Officer Bernard McAulay with emails bernard.mcaulay@unitetheunion.or g<bernard.mcaulay@unitetheunion.org> demanding a date for the ballot.

Unite should organise a ballot immediately of all electricians, plumbers,
pipefitters, HVCA and SJIB trades. Firstly balloting all BBES workers and
then the other 7 companies.

We demand that unite announce our intention to ballot for strike action and
join 2 million public sector workers in on strike against cuts on 30th
November.

We demand a national meeting to co-ordinate our campaign open to all
construction workers we also demand a national recruitment campaign to build
for this strike.

Actions:

Quote:
London: Wednesday 28th September 6.30am Kings X Station platform 10 and 11 main concourse

Liverpool: Wednesday 28th September 6.30 – 9.00am Spie Matthew Hall,
Brownlow Hill, Clarence Street.

Glasgow: Wednesday 28th September Velodrome - Springfield Road, Parkhead, 06.30am

Glasgow: Saturday 1st October 11.30am - People 1st March and Rally -
Green to Kelvingrove Park - Assemble at Glasgow Green

Cambuslang: Wednesday 5th October 6.30am at Fire Training Centre Project
Clydemill Industrial Estate Cambuslang

Glasgow Govan shipyard: Wednesday 12th October 07.00am - Assemble at the middle Gate. Govan Shipyard - Govan Road.

Rank & File meetings:

Quote:
Liverpool: Thursday 29th September 7pm-9pm Friends meeting House, 22 School Lane L1

Manchester: Saturday October 1st 12.00- 3pm Mechanics Institute 103
Princess St M6.

Glasgow Govan shipyard: Saturday 8th October - Construction Meeting - Time
and Venue to be confirmed

London: Tuesday 11th October 6.30pm Conway Hall, Red Lion Square, Holburn.

Tactics:

Quote:
‘Protests’ ‘demo’s’ ‘site invasions’ direct action and as the TUC supports “civil disobedience” has already brought a right result and is the way
forward, main contractors will wonder “what’s next” it will pile the
pressurse the remaining 7 JIB firms to back off, and tell unite ‘National
ballot now’!

New blog: http://www.jibelectrician.blogspot.com/

alan on tyneside
Sep 30 2011 11:18

Video from Kings Cross on Monday; please spread & help break the mainstream media blackout!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pcz0atgIfmk

Battlescarred
Sep 30 2011 12:56

It was a Wednesday, by the way. Yeah spread this and come down next Wednesday in London -Park House , by Oxford Street from 6.30 am

Ed
Sep 30 2011 13:24

Just to say, I've tidied this thread up as it'd been spammed to madness.. sorry if you wanted to buy ugg boots or whatever but it had to go.. smile

miles
Oct 1 2011 11:48

Another interesting video - this time from outside the Shard

AIW
Oct 6 2011 13:06
Quote:
ATTEMPTS were under way today to bring an end to an unofficial strike which has seen dozens of workers protest outside an industrial site.

It is thought the Unite union was due to meet with representatives of a group demonstrating outside Lucite in Billingham.

Crowds of around 100 people have been reported at the company’s entrance in recent days in an action which has delayed planned maintenance work.

The protest comes after 14 scaffolders and labourers were escorted from the chemical company’s site - triggering a disagreement which saw other workers join the dispute.

A source at Hertel, which employs the workers at the Lucite site, said the “unofficial strike action” had been going on for several days and involved the “unlawful secondary picketing” of the premises.

He claimed many of the demonstrators had no direct connection with the work in question, adding the firm had written to its employees to “counter false allegations that the dispute is in any way linked to pay or that the men were forcibly removed from the site.”

The source said Hertel had ended a temporary scaffolding contract last week due to a reduction in the planned scope of scaffolding work required at the Cassel Works site. The decision meant that around 14 scaffolders out of a total of workforce of around 160 contractors employed by the company were given a week’s pay in lieu of notice.

The company says that is in line with the agreed terms of the temporary contracts.

But the workers claim their action comes after they were laid off following a pay review request.

Advanced scaffolder Tony Seaman last night told the Gazette he had taken a letter of grievance to management last Wednesday.

He said workers were asking for Hertel to set up a meeting with union officials regarding payments for a planned shutdown.

The 41-year-old, of Ormesby, claimed workers got £10.46 a hour and wanted £14.

They say that is in accordance with NAECI (blue book) rates, but Hertel has said Lucite is not part of that agreement.

“We believe they don’t want to pay the correct rate for the shutdown and for the new build which is going on,” Mr Seaman added. “I can’t describe how we feel.”

Mr Seaman said other workers then joined the action.

He added: “The rest of the site had a meeting on Thursday and came out.”

Mr Seaman last night said: “I would say there are between 100 and 150 out on unofficial strike.”

He added his belief the shutdown would not go ahead unless the current situation was resolved.

Scaffolder John Beadnall, 52, from Middlesbrough, said at the site’s entrance today: “I believe management have handled this terribly. It’s grossly unfair.”

And Jamie Rowland, 26, a scaffolder from Easterside, added: “They ought to hold talks immediately.”

A Hertel spokesman said the situation all of the 14 were employed as temporary scaffolders and labourers.

“The process was managed in accordance with standard procedures with appropriate notice issued to each of the affected employees,” he added.

“This is not the right way to resolve a grievance.

“We hope that when people realise that the dispute does not have the backing of the union and that the planned maintenance activity will now be delayed meaning further loss of income for many, those involved will return to work.”

The Gazette has seen a copy of a letter from Len McCluskey, general secretary of Unite, to members stating the union will give no support to the unofficial action.

“If you fail to work normally you will be taking part in unofficial action,” he warns.

It is believed that the spokesmen for the parties involved in the dispute were due to meet at time of going to press.

Battlescarred
Oct 6 2011 13:22

the next action in London is on Wednesay at 6.30 a.m at the Tate Modern. A call has gone out from the electricians for as many people as possible to reinforce the action.

AIW
Oct 6 2011 14:49
Quote:
Ratcliffe Power Station - Protest against the Attack on the M&E Industry

Time: Friday, October 7 · 6:30am - 9:30am
Location: Ratcliffe On Soar Power Station, Nottinghamshire

Directions - http://www.eon-uk.com/ratcliffe.pdf

Ratcliffe Power Station
Ratcliffe On Sour
Nottinghamshire
NG11 0EE

At a meeting on Monday (3rd October), the sparks on the site voted to walk out this Friday.

This is the first protest for Nottinghamshire in the battle against companies pulling out of the national JIB agreement. They are attempting to impose average pay cuts of 35%, alongside numerous other attacks on terms and conditions.

The action is unofficial - we can't afford to wait for UNITE to initiate a ballot, although everyone is still pushing for this.

Spread the word, join the lads from the site, get involved and save our industry

AIW
Oct 6 2011 15:01
Quote:
PRESS RELEASE: Immediate 4 October 2011 17:00

Scotland Yard attempt to ban latest sparks protest in Oxford Street

Scotland Yard has been in contact with UNITE the Union to try and stop a planned protest outside a building site in Oxford Street tomorrow morning Wednesday 5th Oct.

For the past 3 weeks thousands of electricians have been involved in protests at Kings Cross, Farringdon Crossrail Station, the Shard and Blackfriars Station in a bitter campaign against a 35% pay cut and de-skilling of the industry.

The dispute has already spread beyond London. Last week the Tyne Tunnel was closed by protesters and walkouts have occurred at Grangemouth in Scotland and Lindsey Oil Refinery on Humberside.

The action has been organised by a grassroots network led by rank & file activists rather than the official union. In London two weeks ago Farringdon Station was invaded by 300 sparks – and last week the main road at Kings Cross was closed by police after being blocked by 400 protesters who then stormed the station concourse.

Click on link for video footage http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pcz0atgIfmk

Met Police have now decided to adopt a harsher approach in fear that Oxford Street may be brought to a standstill during rush-hour tomorrow morning.

Jerry Hicks a grass roots, rank and file committee member said “The TUC called for civil disobedience, well here it is. This will almost certainly bring the issue to a head. They are determined to demonstrate.”

The background to the dispute is that the largest electrical contractors in the UK: Bailey Building Services, Balfour Beatty Engineering Services, Tommy Clarke, Crown House Technologies, Gratte Brothers, SES and SPIE Matthew Hall have all decided to withdraw from the nationally negotiated electrical agreement [JIB]

Electricians are currently paid £16.25 per hour – the proposed new contracts cut this to £10 per hour for the vast majority of the work. In addition the new contract would allow non-qualified staff to carry out electrical work. Dismissal Notices have already been sent out to thousands of electrical workers – the new contracts will be imposed on 7th December.

The building site in Oxford Street is a Tommy Clarke site – one of the rogue electrical contractors

It has been reported that major clients fear that the dispute will escalate and impact upon projects across the UK – some tendering processes have been halted because of the negative publicity around the electrical firms involved.

Ends:

Notes to editor:

The protest details are: 6:30 Wednesday 5th October: Tommy Clarke building site, Park House, opposite Selfridges in Oxford Street.

For more info contact: siteworkers@virginmedia.com

Jerry Hicks can be contacted on 07817827912

AIW
Oct 12 2011 18:38

Sparks Protest Newcastle 12/10/11
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gxPXgk4Zk9k

alibi
Oct 23 2011 20:58

national demo in london on the 9th of november apparently.

Auto
Oct 23 2011 21:15
alibi wrote:
national demo in london on the 9th of november apparently.

Same day as the students? Things could get interesting...

alibi
Oct 23 2011 22:23

indeed! a taxi gridlock protest at Trafalgar Sq over private hires same day too.

everyone should be giving the 9th a push, it could really kick start things nicely before the 30th.

alan on tyneside
Oct 26 2011 01:33
alan on tyneside
Oct 26 2011 14:02

Good action at Ashington this morning; numbers were boosted by lads walking from the site and we ended up with 50/60. The main contractor on the site is Kier and it was a bonus that their top brass turned up for a site inspection while we were there and were given lectures on their pernicious sub-contractor, ie Balfours laugh out loud Lots of the lads who walked were wanting to go to London on Nov9. We also had an interesting leaflet to give out; you can find the full text here:

http://www.indymedia.org.uk/en/2011/10/487485.html