New refinery wildcats spread

26 posts / 0 new
Last post
Django's picture
Django
Offline
Joined: 18-01-08
Jun 18 2009 13:23
New refinery wildcats spread

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/wildcat-refinery-strike-spreads-across-uk-1708170.html

Independent wrote:
A wildcat strike over jobs escalated today when workers from several power stations and oil terminals across the UK took unofficial industrial action.

The dispute flared a week ago at the Lindsey oil refinery in Lincolnshire when a contractor laid off 51 workers while another employer on the site was hiring staff.

Around 1,200 contract workers at the terminal, which is owned by Total, have been taking unofficial action all week as efforts were made to convene talks.

Sources said today that workers at several other sites across the country joined the industrial action, hitting power stations at Drax and Eggborough in Yorkshire, Ratcliffe and West Burton in Nottinghamshire, Fiddlers Ferry in Cheshire and Aberthaw in South Wales.

Contractors at a BP refinery near Hull also joined the strike action.

Paul Kenny, general secretary of the GMB union, said he had been in touch with the conciliation service Acas and was seeking an urgent meeting with the head of Total to try to break the deadlock.

no1
Offline
Joined: 3-12-07
Jun 19 2009 06:04

In case anybody feels like picketing a Total station, they have helpfully made available a Service Station Finder on their website:

http://www.total.co.uk/

Beltov
Offline
Joined: 10-05-05
Jun 19 2009 06:33

I see some of the postal workers in London and Scotland are going of official strike too. Would be interesting if they could link up!
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/london/8107906.stm

no1
Offline
Joined: 3-12-07
Jun 19 2009 08:37

interesting leaked memo here:
http://www.socialistunity.com/?p=4243

sum-one's picture
sum-one
Offline
Joined: 28-08-07
Jun 19 2009 08:39

I'm fairly suprised that they've sacked 900 workers!!! He's a quote from a worker on the BBC site; "We are asking for support from workers across the country which I am sure will be given. Total will soon realise they have unleashed a monster."

I think that is true to be honest. Let's get behind it like we did with Visteon.
Workers organise and fight!

Django's picture
Django
Offline
Joined: 18-01-08
Jun 19 2009 08:58

Another Tea Break issue for starters? Information is thin on the ground.

ernie
Offline
Joined: 19-04-06
Jun 19 2009 12:33

This is an important movement already given that 900 workers walked out in solidarity with 51 who were laid off and that it has spread to other sites. More than that it is on a much clearer basis than the movement earlier in the year i.e., it is going to be very difficult to say that this is a nationalist struggle. It also pushs to one side the recent spate of struggles that the unions have been trying to organize about the use of foreign labour. The potential for other workers to see the need to join in with or to actively support this struggle is also greater. Earlier in the years many workers were frankly shocked by what the media made to appear to be a nationalist/racist struggle and would not have touched it with a barrage pole. However, it is no accident that this has happened on the Friday because it means there is going to be the weekend and the bosses and unions will hope that this will cool down workers anger.
A question that is raised is why has Total decided upon this confrontation now? Given that the unions have been busy dividing up the construction workers around the issue of foreign labour this action by Total has stimulated solidarity rather than division. it will be interesting to see if migrant workers join the struggle as well.

Alf's picture
Alf
Offline
Joined: 6-07-05
Jun 19 2009 22:56

Agree with Ernie. Another aspect is that it is not that common in recent years for a sector which has been involved in a big struggle like the oil refinery strikes to be launching themselves into a another major struggle so soon afterwards. It indicates that the combatvity is still very much intact. As Ernie says there is far less possibility of presenting this as a nationalist movement, although the Guardian had a go today by publishing a big photo of workers holding the 'British jobs' placards during the previous strike. On the contrary there is every reason for appealing for solidarity from all construction (and other) workers on a class basis. It will be interesting to see whether there are any attempts to make links with the Olympic village construction workers, for example.

The mass 'revenge' sackings, along with the recent call from BA calling on workers to work for nothing, indicate that at least part of the ruling class thinks that it can now get away with murder because workers are cowed by the threat of mass unemployment. But this is a very risky approach which could provoke widespread anger and action from workers.

ernie
Offline
Joined: 19-04-06
Jun 20 2009 08:52

Hundreds of posties out on wildcat in Scotland over lay-offs and cuts in services (according to the ten am news of Radio4)

capricorn
Offline
Joined: 3-05-07
Jun 21 2009 09:45

This is how the Times (19 June) reported the strike:

Quote:
Total dismisses almost 900 striking workers, says union
Susan Thompson
Nearly 900 workers were dismissed after a wildcat strike by contractors at Lindsey oil refinery in Lincolnshire, according to Unite, the union.
About 1,200 contractors walked out last week in protest at 51 redundancies, bringing work to a halt on a desul-phurisation unit. The protest started when Shaw, a sub-contractor, notified staff of redundancies because work on the current phase of the building project was ending.
The workers say that an agreement not to cut jobs had been broken. Total, the French energy group that owns the refinery, denies any knowledge of such an agreement and ordered them to return to work and end their "illegal" action immediately.
The GMB union had asked Acas, the employment conciliation service, to convene talks between the parties, but Total said that it would not take part in any discussions until the contractors had returned to work.
Reports last night suggested that Total had lost patience with the protesters and dismissed almost 900 workers. Total did not return calls. Unite said that it was "extremely concerned" about Total's actions and was understood to be working to arrange immediate talks with the group's local management.
The mass dismissal followed news that the Lindsey incident had sparked strikes at other oil and power installations in Yorkshire, Cheshire and Nottinghamshire. Reports of unofficial strikes and protests came from Drax, in Yorkshire, Britain's largest coal-fired power generator, from Fiddlers Ferry, a power station at Widnes, Cheshire, and the Ratcliffe power station in Nottinghamshire.
Lindsey, one of Britain's biggest oil refineries, was hit by mass industrial action in January over the use of foreign workers. Hundreds of construction staff walked out after the company brought in Italians and Portuguese to build a new unit rather than use local employees.
A representative of Unite told the BBC last night that staff had believed there was an agreement not to cut any jobs while those foreign contactors were employed.

If this last statement is true -- and of course it is entirely possible, given that the Times is a bosses' paper that it isn't -- this would suggest that the strikers were demanding the enforcement of what they understood to be an agreement that, when it comes to redundancies, Italian and Polish workers should be dismissed first.

ernie
Offline
Joined: 19-04-06
Jun 21 2009 13:01

Unite may be pushing its odious nationalist line, but this is not the main demand, which is defend the sacked workers. Also the Unite official interviewed on the Radio 4 13.00 news on Friday made no mention of this as the cause of the initial walk out. Undoubtedly some of the workers have fallen for the unions constant nationalist campaign, but others have not
“"total will soon realise they have unleashed a monster. It is disgraceful that this has happened without any consultation," ... "It is also unlawful and it makes me feel sick. If they get away with this, the rest of the industry will crumble and it will be like a turkey cull. Workers will be decimated and unskilled employees from abroad will be brought in on the cheap, treated like scum and sent back after the job is done. There is a serious possibility that the lights will go out because of this. We just cannot stand by and see workers discarded like an oily cloth." (A sacked worker.The Independent 20th June 2009)
Capricorn what major paper is not a bosses paper? The Guardian is playing the nationalist card more than the Times on this one; with its picture of a picket holding a Union Jack. Total may well have let lose a monster, tomorrow will see
This struggle is on a much clear basis than that earlier in the year.

Wellclose Square
Offline
Joined: 9-05-08
Jun 21 2009 16:25

There's no doubt that nationalism is a theme within the current dispute at Lindsey - as it was back in February - shown by the young lad holding a PUT BRITS FIRST placard. Having said that, the 'proletarian content' of the other placards is much more prominent than before, so that said lad's placard sticks out like a sore thumb, and one picket seems to be giving him 'dirty looks'...

I never thought that the February walkout was simply a rerun of Imperial typewriters-style industrial racism, when a racist workforce went on strike against the recruitment of 'non-white' workers. In February there was a lot of nationalist chaff, promoted by the unions, the media, and no doubt reflecting the opinions of many of the striking workers, but there was still the kernel of a fight for all workers amidst all that, which was worth salvaging. Now, as Ernie says, Total may well have unleashed a monster, and the lines are far more clear-cut, which is as much a product of workers reflecting on the events of February and the limitations of nationalism, I think, as bosses wanting to up the ante (foolishly, I think). The stakes are high, considering the 'Supreme Leader' has seen fit to intervene and urge sacked workers to re-apply for their jobs. Tomorrow will see...

Alf's picture
Alf
Offline
Joined: 6-07-05
Jun 21 2009 20:14

Good post!

isn't there a post where you talk about your political history a bit? care to elaborate?

Wellclose Square
Offline
Joined: 9-05-08
Jun 21 2009 20:55

Thanks, Alf.

Quote:
isn't there a post where you talk about your political history a bit? care to elaborate?

I don't like to wash my 'dirty linen' in public, but I could update my profile sometime!

miles's picture
miles
Offline
Joined: 21-09-08
Jun 22 2009 13:56

This page on the bbc compiles a list of all the sites where workers have walked out:


Quote:
Workers across the UK have walked out in sympathy, with thousands downing tools on Monday in unofficial action. They include:
• 900 contract workers at Sellafield in Cumbria
• 400 workers at two LNG plants in west Wales - South Hook and Dragon
• 200 contractors at Aberthaw power station in the Vale of Glamorgan, south Wales
• 200 contractors at Drax and Eggborough power stations near Selby, North Yorkshire
• Workers at Fiddlers Ferry power station in Widnes, Cheshire
• Contract maintenance workers at the Shell Stanlow Refinery in Ellesmere Port, Cheshire
• 60 contract maintenance workers at Didcot A power station in Oxfordshire
• More than 1,000 workers at the Ensus biofuel site in Wilton, Teesside

sum-one's picture
sum-one
Offline
Joined: 28-08-07
Jun 22 2009 20:39

Yeah, they've been reporting 3,000 are out at 8 sites across the country. Fairly encouraging show of solidarity I'd say. Isn't there a mass rally planned at the refinery tomorrow, or was that today?

Alf's picture
Alf
Offline
Joined: 6-07-05
Jun 22 2009 23:24

New article on the strikes on our website:

http://en.internationalism.org/icconline/2009/06/construction-sector-struggle

sum-one's picture
sum-one
Offline
Joined: 28-08-07
Jun 23 2009 16:59

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/8114154.stm

Here's a new article from the Beeb with a short video of the demo today I think. Talks are starting, and Total are observing, because they aren't responsible for the dismissals. The unions are saying different.

D_B
Offline
Joined: 18-06-08
Jun 24 2009 21:30

The IWW have been doing some protests on this in Birmingham

http://www.indymedia.org.uk/en/regions/birmingham/2009/06/433063.html

Armchair Anarchist's picture
Armchair Anarchist
Offline
Joined: 16-12-07
Jun 26 2009 06:43

Looks like it might be over:

bbc wrote:
A deal to end the bitter jobs dispute at the Total-run Lindsey oil refinery, which has led to walkouts across the country, has been agreed, unions say.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/8120076.stm

IrrationallyAngry
Offline
Joined: 23-06-05
Jun 26 2009 16:06

Socialist Party report on victory at Total. It appears that all strikers have been reinstated, and that the workers who were originally made redundant will be offered jobs.

http://socialistparty.org.uk/latest/7482

sum-one's picture
sum-one
Offline
Joined: 28-08-07
Jun 29 2009 09:02

The workers have voted tp go back to work and have accepted the deal put forward by the unions. An LOR worker I've made contact with said it's "a small victory in part of a wider struggle."

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/8123545.stm

capricorn
Offline
Joined: 3-05-07
Jun 29 2009 14:25
IrrationallyAngry wrote:
Socialist Party report on victory at Total. It appears that all strikers have been reinstated, and that the workers who were originally made redundant will be offered jobs.

http://socialistparty.org.uk/latest/7482

f you look at this statement you'll see that the trots of Militant (that's who the so-called "Socialist Party" really are) are claiming credit for this and for selling 93 copies of their paper, but they don't say how many members they recruited. Typical trots: jumping on a bandwagon, hoping to build up their vanguard party with the eventual aim of establishing state capitalism where the unions would be turned into agents of the state as they were when Trotsky was a member of the Russian government..

ernie
Offline
Joined: 19-04-06
Jun 30 2009 21:59

Capricorn,
Can we take it that if you thought we lived in a system where the state dominated the economy and society you would except that the unions were part of the state?