Oil refinery strikes

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cantdocartwheels's picture
cantdocartwheels
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Feb 1 2009 22:01
raw wrote:
This is on monday.

From CAIC (campaign against immigration controls):

Quote:
There will be two pickets against the strike for "British Jobs for British Workers" tomorrow morning called by CAIC at the UNITE OFFICES, 128 THEOBALDS ROAD - 5 minutes from Holborn Tube Station.

One is in the morning at 7am. This will coincide with a mass meeting at Sellafield where workers are deciding whether to join the strike.

The other is in the evening - from 5pm onwards.

It is unusual for the likes of us to oppose a strike and we certainly support constructive militant actions to defend jobs, action that has not, in the recent past, been encouraged by the trades union movement. But we believe that, despite protestations to the contrary from the union leaders who are now supporting this strike, that it is driven by and in turn drives hostility to 'foreigners'.

BTW CAIC argues for an internalist working class position

Given that Unite are spinning this as beng enytirely unnofficial action, what exactly do people expect this to achieve. I mean what are they asking Unite to do exactly, order the workforce back on the job? I know you as an anarchis don;t think thats a demand we should be making.
More to the point your not making any links with the workforces in question, even in terms of just leafleting the demonstrations.

capricorn
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Feb 1 2009 22:34

I don't think anyone has made the point yet that this whole episode is a sign of just how degrading the wages system is for us workers. To live we must have money and to get "good money" (relatively speaking) we need to find an employer. Which puts us in competition with our fellow workers and makes us see them as rivals for the jobs employers have to offer. It's all very well saying that workers shouldn't do this, but it's true : we are all rivals in the jobs market. The conclusion to be drawn of course is that we should unite to get rid of the wages system. That might sound a bit abstract but it's literally true. What else can we say to the workers concerned : that they shouldn't ask for jobs to be reserved for them? No doubt they shouldn't, but they will and are, whether through the unions or not (probably more so if not).

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cantdocartwheels
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Feb 1 2009 22:37
oisleep wrote:
anyroads, probably best not to derail this thread any further

yeah PM'd you if you want to carry on the discussion, unless you want to start a thread on it

raw
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Feb 1 2009 23:23
cantdocartwheels wrote:
raw wrote:
This is on monday.

From CAIC (campaign against immigration controls):

Quote:
There will be two pickets against the strike for "British Jobs for British Workers" tomorrow morning called by CAIC at the UNITE OFFICES, 128 THEOBALDS ROAD - 5 minutes from Holborn Tube Station.

One is in the morning at 7am. This will coincide with a mass meeting at Sellafield where workers are deciding whether to join the strike.

The other is in the evening - from 5pm onwards.

It is unusual for the likes of us to oppose a strike and we certainly support constructive militant actions to defend jobs, action that has not, in the recent past, been encouraged by the trades union movement. But we believe that, despite protestations to the contrary from the union leaders who are now supporting this strike, that it is driven by and in turn drives hostility to 'foreigners'.

BTW CAIC argues for an internalist working class position

Given that Unite are spinning this as beng enytirely unnofficial action, what exactly do people expect this to achieve. I mean what are they asking Unite to do exactly, order the workforce back on the job? I know you as an anarchis don;t think thats a demand we should be making.
More to the point your not making any links with the workforces in question, even in terms of just leafleting the demonstrations.

I'm not involved in this.

The best thing we can do is turn up to the national demo in mid feb, with some banners expressing a "no divide and rule" type sentiment and also kick the BNP out/in if they turn up.

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madashell
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Feb 2 2009 06:36
raw wrote:
This is on monday.

From CAIC (campaign against immigration controls):

Quote:
There will be two pickets against the strike for "British Jobs for British Workers" tomorrow morning called by CAIC at the UNITE OFFICES, 128 THEOBALDS ROAD - 5 minutes from Holborn Tube Station.

One is in the morning at 7am. This will coincide with a mass meeting at Sellafield where workers are deciding whether to join the strike.

The other is in the evening - from 5pm onwards.

It is unusual for the likes of us to oppose a strike and we certainly support constructive militant actions to defend jobs, action that has not, in the recent past, been encouraged by the trades union movement. But we believe that, despite protestations to the contrary from the union leaders who are now supporting this strike, that it is driven by and in turn drives hostility to 'foreigners'.

BTW CAIC argues for an internalist working class position

Jesus fucking wept, who are these retards?

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Joseph Kay
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Feb 2 2009 07:42

as far as i'm aware CAIC aren't retards and have done good stuff around migration. they just seem to be fetishising migrant workers in the same way the 'British jobs...' slogan fetishises the 'indiginous' ones neutral

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oisleep
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Feb 2 2009 07:57

a picket against the picket against the strike is required

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Feb 2 2009 08:51

They're looking to spread. From the Guardian report on the strikes today it still looks like common sense is outweighing any xenophobia amongst the strikers:

Quote:
But staff at the site said they planned to get in early to avoid confrontation. It was confirmed that the Italian and Portuguese workers at the centre of the dispute will be confined to their barge hostel in nearby Grimsby docks. The situation in the port and at neighbouring Immingham was described as "volatile and nasty" by one of the workers at the refinery yesterday. He said that rumours were rife about the far right BNP attempting to exploit the issue and extremists "looking for the Italians in bars".

"It is disgusting," said the man, who did not want to be named. "They're decent people who've come here to work, just like our people – including plenty from Grimsby – go over there to do."

Seems like the far right are viewed with a deal of hostility and suspicion.

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Feb 2 2009 09:04

Maybe the people protesting agains the strikes should look at this: http://www.bearfacts.co.uk/Forum/index.php?topic=155.0%20.

The hostility to the far right amongst the workers posting there seems pretty clear.

posi
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Feb 2 2009 10:16

There are a few things I don't get about this strike.

One is the references on some of the boads to some of the foreign workers being 'on the barge', or on a 'prison ship'. What is this about? Don't tell me they're actually moored off shore on some sort of hotel...

EDIT, OK, so they are, this is weird: http://www.zimbio.com/pictures/Oc_Abs54ASB/Oil+Refinery+Workers+Walk+Out+Protest+Over/3Rqb8Pw6YyW

"Around 100 Italian and Portuguese workers are on the North Killingholme site, accommodated in large, grey barges moored in Grimsby docks, and are expected to be joined by 300 more next month."
http://www.thetelegraphandargus.co.uk/uk_national_news/4090521.Foreign_worker_row_sparks_walkouts/

Presumably they're already being paid by the European company in this case? They're getting a wage, but not working - just sitting on the ship?

And can someone explain what sort of workers are on strike in the different locations? Most of the statements I've seen have been about construction workers, but: a) in that case, why are Unite involved as well as (less prominently) UCATT, and b) why is there such a need of construction workers at oil refineries at the moment (as opposed to specialist engineers, etc.)?

I don't speak any relevant languages, but shouldn't a priority be to try and get in touch with a few Italian/Portuguese workers who this might apply to, and try to spread an internationalist message there too? Perhaps to see if some sort of connection is possible? It sounds like those workers might be getting the impression that the strikes are purely jingoist - understandable, given the slogans - and their internationalism is as much at risk as that of the British workers... it would be good to know what they think, and maybe spread a statement of solidarity, if there is that sort of sentiment. And it would also allow us to clear up the question of the 'equal terms and conditions'.

http://www.bearfacts.co.uk/Forum/index.php?topic=163.0

What about through European left/anarchist groups? If the AF has a member involved here, I'd have thought the larger Italian groups even more likely to have people caught up in this...

EDIT: Django - one concern I have is that alot of the more internationalist postings on those forums seem to be people intervening, but who don't actually work there.

While I think basically people on here have got it right, we could go too far in explaining away some of the ideas being expressed on the picket lines and on those forums... there clearly is a properly nationalist current in there too.

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Feb 2 2009 11:12

Sellafield are out

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Feb 2 2009 11:26

Posi - that thread was started by a LOR worker and theres a Sellafield worker talking about the kind of reaction the BNP will get if they turn up on the pickets:

Quote:
If the BNP turn up at our picket when we walk out then I know a few of us won't be standing for it and will tell them to f**k off in no uncertain terms.

While theres clearly some 'interventions' going on there I've seen plenty of anti-racist sentiments from strikers quoted on the news. But I don't think anyone has denied that there's a lot of nationalist reasoning going on, and that this needs to be challenged.

posi
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Feb 2 2009 11:38

Yeah sure, fair enough.

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Feb 2 2009 12:14

From a member of the LOR strike committee

Quote:
'What's really behind the Lindsey Oil Refinery strike
Keith Gibson, Personal Capacity, G.M.B. - elected onto unofficial LOR Strike Committee.

Note: At the time of writing there are plans to lobby Alstom Head
Offices on 5th February in London.

A ninety day redundancy notice had been issued around mid November 2008 at Lindsey Oil Refinery (LOR) for Shaws' workforce.

This meant that by February 17th 2009 a number of Shaws' construction workers (LOR) would be made redundant.

The day before the Christmas holiday Shaws' shop-stewards reported to the men that a part of the contract on LOR's HDS3 plant had been awarded to IREM, an Italian company.

The Stewards explained that Shaws had lost a third of the job to IREM who would be employing their own core Portuguese and Italian workforce numbering 200-300.

Stewards and Union Officials asked to meet with IREM a.s.a.p. after Christmas to clarify the proposal i.e. would IREM employ British labour? Shaws' workforce were told that the IREM workforce would be housed in floating barges in Grimsby docks for the duration of the job, they would be bussed to work in the morning, bussed to and from the barge for lunch.

IREM workers would work from 7.30am - 11.30am and 13.00 - 1700. On Saturdays they would work 4 hours to make up a working week of 44 hours. The normal working week is 44 hours divided by 5 days, from 7.30 -1600 finishing at 1400 on Fridays (most workers work overtime).

Normal breaks include 10 minutes in a morning and a 30 minute dinner break. Stewards were told that IREM workers would be paid the national rate for the job; to date this has not been confirmed.

After Christmas the nominated Shop Stewards entered into negotiations with IREM. Meanwhile, a National Shop Stewards Forum for the construction Industry held a meeting in London to discuss Staythorpe Power Station where the company Alstom were refusing to hire British labour relying on non-union Polish and Spanish workers instead.

It was decided that all Blue Book sites covered by the National Agreement for the Engineering and Construction Industry (NAECI) should send delegations down to Staythorpe to protest against Alstoms' actions.

The workforce on the LOR site sent delegations. Then, on Wednesday 28th January 2009 Shaws' workforce were told by the Stewards that IREM had stated they would not be employing British labour.

The entire LOR workforce, from all subcontracting companies, met and voted unanimously to take immediate unofficial strike action.

The following day over a thousand construction workers from LOR, Conoco and Easington sites descended outside LOR's gate to picket and protest.

This was the spark that ignited the spontaneous unofficial walk outs of our brother construction workers across the length and breadth of Britain.

This worker solidarity is against the 'conscious blacking' of British construction workers by company bosses who refuse to recruit skilled British labour in the U.K.

The workers of LOR, Conoco and Easington did not take strike action against immigrant workers. Our action is rightly aimed against company bosses who attempt to play off one nationality of worker against the other and undermine the NAECI agreement.

THE B.N.P. SHOULD TAKE HEED, U.K. CONTRUCTION WORKERS WILL NOT TOLERATE 'ANOTHER RACIST ATTEMPT' TO SEVER FRATERNAL RELATIONS WITH WORKERS FROM OTHER NATIONS

Demands for Construction Industry:

* No victimisation of workers taking solidarity action.
* All workers in UK to be covered by NAECI Agreement
* Union controlled registering of unemployed and locally skilled
union members
* Government and employer investment in proper training /
apprenticeships for new generation of construction workers
* All Immigrant labour to be unionised.
* Trade Union assistance for immigrant workers - via interpreters
- to give right of access to Trade Union advice - to promote active
integrated Trade Union Members'

http://hammer-and-sickle.blogspot.com/2009/02/lindsey-oil-refinery-strike-confusion.html

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Feb 2 2009 12:42

Found this map on the telegraph website.. pretty impressive so far. Also gives us an idea of where these things are happening and who would be good to get in touch with..

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madashell
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Feb 2 2009 12:50

Can the title of this thread be changed? I do enough to make myself look dim by accident without doing it on purpose too.

baboon
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Feb 2 2009 14:01

Did anyone hear anything about the Channel 4, 1830 news statement that the unions were banned from the Sellafield mass meeting?
1300 on a 24 hour wildcat from this morning from Sellafield. The news is restricted on several other mass meetings taking place (Isle of Grain and others).

There's no need for Capricorn's convoluted conspiracy theories. These EU "measures" have been agreed by various national bodies because they defend the national interests of all the countries involved. The benefit mostly the "richest" countries like Britain, Germany and France because they can import cheaper labour. But they represent the interests of the smaller nations too because they can find cheaper deals. The bourgeoisie and the capitalists win and the workers lose out. That is why, in general, the unions in Britain have supported these measures (because they defend the national interest) and while, performing one of the roles of the unions, they have been warning the government in their direct talks with Labour Party ministers, of the discontent building up within the working class.

A union official who talked to the Independent yesterday: "We really don't know how many will be on strike tomorrow. It's very difficult to gauge the extent of it, because they don't tell you until the last minute. One minute there's a meeting... The next they are out on strike".
Another union official in the Guardian: (added) "that the action appeared to have been coordinated via mobile phones, texts and on-line forums".

Don't forget that the 1984 miners' strike had strong nationalistic undertones (Defend British coal and so on were the union's slogans) but that didn't make the struggle any less important. In fact it was this nationalist isolation by the unions that slowly but surely defeated the struggle and this should be a lesson emphasised to workers today.

It appears to me, that the unions here have been outflanked initially. They responded with their "British jobs..." garbage in order to channel the discontent but appear to have pulled back from that given the scope and to some extent the consciousness of the movement (ie, not anti-foreign workers in the main).

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Feb 2 2009 14:38

More out at Sizewell.

Mike Harman
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Feb 2 2009 15:33

BBC news this morning was saying that shop stewards are now urging workers at one site back to work (can't remember which site now) due to 'reassurances' over the weekend, but a mass meeting had decided to stay out against the advice.

After the Brown/Mandelson statements this weekend it looks like after the initial widespread coverage we'll see a lot more vilification and marginalisation over this next week - at least assuming the snow doesn't completely wipe it out of the news schedules.

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Feb 2 2009 15:49

Looks like the BNP involvement is being massively overplayed by the media and lefties. From the look of it the only group with any involvement in events at LOR is the Socialist Party (ex-militant).

http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/latest/6850

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Feb 2 2009 22:34
Django wrote:
From a member of the LOR strike committee
Quote:
The workers of LOR, Conoco and Easington did not take strike action against immigrant workers. Our action is rightly aimed against company bosses who attempt to play off one nationality of worker against the other and undermine the NAECI agreement.

THE B.N.P. SHOULD TAKE HEED, U.K. CONTRUCTION WORKERS WILL NOT TOLERATE 'ANOTHER RACIST ATTEMPT' TO SEVER FRATERNAL RELATIONS WITH WORKERS FROM OTHER NATIONS

Demands for Construction Industry:

* No victimisation of workers taking solidarity action.
* All workers in UK to be covered by NAECI Agreement
* Union controlled registering of unemployed and locally skilled
union members
* Government and employer investment in proper training /
apprenticeships for new generation of construction workers
* All Immigrant labour to be unionised.
* Trade Union assistance for immigrant workers - via interpreters
- to give right of access to Trade Union advice - to promote active
integrated Trade Union Members'

http://hammer-and-sickle.blogspot.com/2009/02/lindsey-oil-refinery-strike-confusion.html

Im glad to see this bit...I did worry that the level of xenophobia / nationalism might have been underestimated, glad to be proved wrong to some extent at least.

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Feb 2 2009 23:18

Interesting thread. My, if some LibCom threads are this reasoned and chilled, I might start grazing here again.

As for the strikes, I think they are, unsurprisingly, a mixture of people with different views. To not recognise the anti-foreign undercurrent in the sympathy strikes (not so much in the original i reckon) is to deliberately not see the wood for the trees.

But, definitely, i think as many of us as possible should go and talk up the anti-bosses aspect. If we get stuff down my way I'll try and go, if only to check it out, talk to people face to face and get the true flavour of it. To listen to what they're saying, and how they're saying it. I personally wouldn't advise handing out leaflets, especially the ones I've seen on this thread. No criticism at all, its a good leaflet, but i think it would be a strategic error. Remember, 'we' aren't known, trusted or respected in 'these' communities and theres no point pretending that we are (apologies if i've undersold anyone there, I'm painting with a broad brush).

Better to stand at the back with your eyes and ears open, have some conversations and get to know people. This would even go as far as Far Right involvement - make the case, refute the arguments (if they have any) but don't kick it off and take the focus away from the strikers. I don't think they'd appreciate that whatever they think. And anyway, its not as if the BNP would be hard to find if we did want to shut them up, is it? smile

I truly believe, at this moment, Anarchism is an irrelevant subject for a crushingly high percentage of the population. We need the propaganda of deeds done - we need to be there, be a part of it, and have a respected track record before anyone will even listen to what we're saying. That is how we should approach the upcoming turmoils, by going back to basics and slowly building a consensus, face to face, one by one. Our arguments ARE convincing but we have to find the right way to get them across, and i think its worth spending a bit of thought on doing that.

I'm starting to get the unsettling, but exciting, feeling that we are at the start of something big, new that will force a lot of changes. I'm unsettled by the marginalised position we currently hold, and the price we could well have to pay as individuals, but excited that we DO hold the answers, that we CAN play a part in shaping the future.

Most of all, I am unsettled about how many of the people around me TRULY want to take the chance and take the hits to try and make the change a positive one. I don't even know if I've got it in me. The only way we'll find out is to get involved and see what happens.

Anyways, that my opinion, I hope you will treat it with the courtesy thats been shown to others, and take it in the spirit that its meant.

See you on the barricades, mines a soya milk with one and a half sugars! smile

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Feb 3 2009 00:18

Mark Steel was just on Radio 5 and was quizzed on what he thought, saying he thought the strike was being twisted and presented as simplistic anti-foreign shit and that essentially there was a lot positive about the strike,a dn that it was good that many involved were distancing themselves from the anti-foreign element.

baboon
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Feb 3 2009 11:30

Last night's BBC and ITV news both played the racist card. Both introduced the news as "anti-foreigner" strikes. The BBC found a moron talking about 'we don't want eye-ties' and played this on both its channels. An Italian worker was interviewed who was quiet and said he didn't take it personally. A local Unite official was interviewed on BBC2 and, despite a reasonable argument and dismissing that this strike was against foreigners, was told by Paxman looking down his nose, and the slug Labour MP, Vaz, that he was encouraging xenophobia and the BNP, Vaz even played the 'get back to work anti-fascist' card. The guy simply said that this was a struggle to put food on the table and live. Both channels made no mention that earlier at Lindsey the BNP had been 'escorted from the premises' by the workers (Channel 4). These two TV channels, and their racist filth, express a campaign by the bourgeosie to divide the movement.

Paul Mason was also on, delving into Bearfacts. He said this showed that a small group of stewards backed by surrepticious Unite money was behind the strike. I don't doubt the involvement of stewards, one would think they would be among the most militant workers - but this movement is beyond a shadowy conspiracy.
I don't know how he got his info, but he also said a new phenomenom was that ten thousand youngsters, "not union members" (why should they be?), had been posting on sites supporting the strikes and some calling for a national strike.

Without underestimating the problems and dangers involved, I think that we can say that this movement is an expression of an international wave of struggle currently being expressed by the proletariat across the world. If it ceased tomorrow it would already be significant. That is why, if possible, it is important to distribute leaflets of communist propaganda and I think that the ICC leaflet, among others, is suited to international distribution.

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Feb 3 2009 11:30

The BBC selectively edit striker's soundbite to make him sound xenophobic

We need to be critical of any nationalist stuff, but we also need to be very careful about how far we believe what the media is saying about this dispute.

ernie
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Feb 3 2009 13:54

I agree this was blatant manipulation. The two items were only 20 minutes apart on the BBC. Many will have watched the 10oc news but not Newsnight, the aim of this manipulation is obvious.
The government's tactic now appears to be to accuse the strikers of being xenophobic, backwards and giving unwitting support to the BNP. This takes some gall, given the way they have spent the last 10 years stirring up xenophobia around immigrants, generating a climate of hate towards Muslims and taking over the slogan of British jobs for British workers. That is besides their imprisoning of men. women and children in detention camps, and sending their goon squads into estates, towns and even hospitals to drag off people.
It is interesting that it appears that Thebearfacts appears to be distributing new posters (they had distributed many of the none union, British Job for British workers A4 posters) calling for equal rights for all workers, or something along those lines (briefly mentioned on Newsnight, and tried with contempt by Paxo, who called it a "more politically correct slogan"). If the discussions on Thebearfacts are anything to go by it would appear that there is a discussion amongst the strikers, and the strike committees about the previous slogan. Well not wanting to go over the top about this, this struggle has confronted workers with the question of nationalism and solidarity in a very direct way, and this at the beginning of the movements that are to come.

littad21
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Feb 3 2009 13:59

Latvian workers on a hospital in Mansfield, Notts.
Where working for the national rates, but after stopages by their company.
Board and lodge, travel, hire of tools.
Ended up with a take home pay of £8.50, for a 45 hour week.

ernie
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Feb 3 2009 14:19

To correct the above, Thebearfacts are stilling distributing the British jobs....but one of the forum members has put up some suggested posters to so that it is not a struggle for discrimination but against:
- Fair access for local labour
- No discrimination equal rights 4 all Employment for local workers Defend our unions, jobs, pay and conditions!
- It's Total discrimination: workers of the world unit!
The later is clearly the most interesting: don't think the BBC and ITV will be showing many of them!

littad21
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Feb 3 2009 14:23

This Goverment has been preparing for this moment for ten years.
We are about to find out why all these so called Anti-Terroist laws have put in place.
To jail any person who is against them. ie the Goverment.

ernie
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Feb 3 2009 14:36

Littad21

Where did you get the information about the Lativian workers? Sounds like the return of the old 'Truck' system with a vengeance. How many other migrant workers are being forced to live like this?