As of Monday 20th September, around two hundred mechanical & electrical workers have walked off the job at the Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE) Burghfield site, in response to alleged blacklisting and union-busting efforts from management.
The rank and file construction blog Siteworker reported:
Over 200 NG Bailey Sparks and Fitters walked off site at AWE Burghfield today (20/09) over suspected Blacklisting and Union busting. The row started on Friday afternoon, when workers were selected for transfer without notice, they had been told by their employer that it was AWE who had requested their removal.
Anger spread through the workforce over the weekend at the treatment of their colleagues, especially as those selected are all Union members, with one being an elected union site safety rep. The workers held a meeting earlier today and sought answers through the management.
One worker who has chosen to remain anonymous has told us:
“AWE could and have removed access to site for workers in the past, we’ve only known it with an investigation and appeals process though, this feels very different”
The NG Baileys workforce requested their reps ask for proof that AWE had made this decision. They were later informed it was Costain that had made the decision, who along with NG Baileys, had previously subscribed to the consulting association Blacklist.
Seeing this as misinformation with no satisfactory answers coming, they walked off site this afternoon, requesting proof off their employer that Costains had in fact chosen the employees to be removed from the project, whilst still starting new workers on the project today.
The firm responded with what workers saw as a lockout threat while also sending official statements saying they would dock any workers taking part in an agreed meeting on site in the morning.
Updates to follow
Dave Smith, of the Blacklist Support Group, added:
"These are the very same electricians whose action in May 2021 was decisive in winnning the No2ESO industrial dispute. NG Bailey sent out letters threatening disciplinary action this afternoon. Costain (another firm with a history of blacklisting) are the main contractor on the project."
This marks the third important unofficial action by electricians this year, following on from the No to ESO national dispute that was eventually settled by action at the Burghfield site, along with the walkouts over safety and victimisation of striking workers at the Gateshead Amazon facility.