Workers go on strike due to unsafe working conditions. The State responds with a heavy police presence finally sending in the riot cops. This article is compiled from reports first published by the Anarchist Communist Group and Freedom News.
Striking MGT Power workers have been picketing the entrance to Teesport, on the A66, since Thursday 30th May. It is not the first time workers have walked out over safety issues, blocking the same road and stopping traffic on the A66.
Hundreds of protestors said in November that “nobody wanted to walk off site” but they claim their safety has been put at risk, and that action was only taken after repeated and lengthy discussions with management failed.
Workers walked out on Thursday, complaining of poor safety conditions on site sparked by an incident involving a boiler. According to the company, MGT Teesside, the incident involved a boiler where a suspended load unexpectedly moved during installation. No-one was injured and the area was quarantined and as a further precaution all workers within the boiler were relocated to their mess cabins.
Tensions rose on the picket line as striking MGT Power workers and police reacted during a second day of protest. On Friday initially the cops put on a huge display, allowed protesters to remain in the road but by mid-morning, police attempted to move protesters off the road to allow queuing HGVs to pass to their destinations.
The move flared tempers and unleashed shouts from a packed crowd at least 20 bodies deep. As police started to move the crowd, the situation became further inflamed as workers pushed back. The protests eventually broke up with the workers promising to come back on Monday.
On Monday a huge police presence including riot cops was called in as A66 protests continued. The action was briefly called off at around 9.30am but resumed at 11am after unsuccessful talks between workers and management.
The resumption of the protest was met with a show of strength by police as a large number of officers descended on the site, including a significant number in riot gear. The police helicopter was also used as part of the operation to move protesters. The road was reopened again shortly after 12pm. Workers eventually left the site just before 1pm but pledged to resume the protest at 6am on Tuesday.
A spokesman for MGT said: “It is very sad that we now have yet another unofficial industrial action on the project without any of the procedures of the Blue Book contract having been followed”. The Blue Book is an official agreement with the unions. It is unclear what this agreement actually states but workers are obviously not happy with it and are having to undertake “unofficial” industrial action.
The use of Riot Police by the state to support the bosses shows that both the state and the bosses do not care about workers safety and rights. But as North East Anarchist Group rightly say:
The State’s purpose, and thus the police’s, is to control us. To ensure that capitalism continues to function unhindered and protect the interests of the ruling class, allowing them to retain its dominant position over us… The cops aren’t your friend and neither is your boss. We only have each other.
The above report was published by the Anarchist Communist Group. On Wednesday June 5th, Freedom News reported that the strike was ongoing:
The workers at MGT Power Plant in Teesside start day five of their spontaneous protest today.
The workers have gone on strike at Tees Reneweable Energy Plant- world’s largest biomass power plant being built on Teesside by MGT- last Tuesday over poor safety conditions. The action was sparked by what was described a “boiler incident”. The plant’s operator has confirmed an incident involving a boiler where a suspended load moved during installation. Nobody was injured in the incident and soon the area was declared safe by the plant operator, however, the workers refused to return to work, with their spokesperson saying on Friday that they felt unsafe.
The protest continued in the last days, causing delays on the A66 and surrounding roads as workers block the Tees Dock Road near the plant. On Monday, the police mounted an operation in order to clear the road, with large numbers of cops and a helicopter present. Today early morning, one worker was arrested.
Also reported here with a few
Also reported here with a few additional background connections and political comment:
Thanks for that, good for the
Thanks for that, good for the links to other recent struggles in the region - see this as well for some background on the 2015 dispute. For anyone reading this and wanting to know more, maybe the Teesside Solidarity Movement would be a good point of contact?
"The Blue Book is an official
"The Blue Book is an official agreement with the unions. It is unclear what this agreement actually states..." Well, if you really want to know, comrades, it is available here:
and it really does have a suitably blue cover!
It is published by the National Joint Council of the Engineering Construction Industry (NJCECI), a bosses and unions body.
We may recall that supposed breaches of the Blue Book agreement by the bosses were an important issue in the Lindsey Refinery strike around a decade ago. Mouvement Communiste wrote a Letter about it:
Unsure how connected TSM to
Unsure how connected TSM to these strikes but it's worth pointing out that TSM is full of TERFs and has recently invited Posie Parker to join their ranks and defend their transphobia. Posie Parker as I am sure most are aware has links to right wing Christian fundamentalists, anti-LGBT, anti-abortion groups as well as having worked previously with Tommy Robinson.
North East Anarchist Group has been down to the picket to see what can be done. The last we heard was that negotiations were taking place.