Tuesday, 23 August 2011

And Once In Leeds They Unite?

17th August - So off to Leeds everyone goes for the early afternoon meeting. All shop stewards, officers and three members of OUR committee are invited to discuss what is happening and to bring everyone up to date.

Unites take on the meeting :

An extremely well attended meeting of the Unite Shop Stewards Forum representing Electrical, Plumbing & Mechanical workers took place today (Wednesday 17th August 2011) in Leeds. Shop stewards from all corners of the UK attended the Forum in relation to the Employers' proposed Building Services Engineering National Agreement consisting of eight Major contractors who seek to impose this new agreement on their employees. The Stewards sent a clear message that our membership throughout the UK are not prepared to accept the termination of their existing national agreements and the imposition of new terms and conditions of employment. Together in solidarity and as a united team the Stewards and our membership are determined to defend their agreements, craft heritage and trades. Members and shop stewards will be meeting regionally. Contact your Construction Regional Officer to get involved and obtain campaign materials and assistance in site organisation. It is imperative that we work together. As a united team we will succeed.

The committee's take on the meeting:

Three members of our national committee formed in London on Saturday 13th August attended the Unite stewards meeting in Leeds on 17th August.
One of them said ‘I’ve never heard so much waffle in my life! The meeting was a talking shop, talking loud saying nothing!’ There were 40 present, I would say 75% were Unite appointed officials; there were 2 elected stewards at the most.
Our activists were very vocal about the outrageous ideas on deskilling but most of those present didn’t seem interested in a campaign of action. Time is off the essence but all they were talking about is having more meetings and they may start a proper campaign up in January next year!
 Site Worker was handed out much to the annoyance of the officials. Bernard McCauley said ‘we don’t want any splinter groups or people doing their own thing. We need to build an army and do things slowly, properly with a strategy, it’s a marathon.’
The thing is lads on site don’t see it that way. Building sites come and go; it’s not like a factory which stays put for 30 years. Construction is different, might be a job for 2 years, some a year or 6 months. Us construction workers can’t hang about for 3 months for you to start a campaign. We never have done. Rank and file are on the move, you need to catch up fast or we will be out of work, sacked by JIB firms. The big 8 will do exactly that and recruit a brand new work force on £10.50 an hour, might even drop the rates lower after a bit. That’s the reality. Unite still has the old guard Jackson /Hardacre appointed officials and convenors. Until these officers are binned nothing will change in construction. You will recruit if workers see positive action, exactly what the rank and file are doing now, today, not in 3 or 4 months time.
The new agreement is worse than we thought:

1) Rule 17 will go, agency workers currently are made redundant before payees, protecting those on the cards.
 2) Employers will dictate when you are paid, every 2 weeks or monthly.
 3) Travel time and fares will go.
 4) JIB pension will go.
 5) Employers could downgrade you when they like.
 6) The right to claim unfair dismissal from day 1 will go.
 7) Apprenticeships will be downgraded.
 8) The right to have hearing under JIB disputes procedure will go.

If we don’t fight now we will asked to sign a new contract. If you refuse to sign this and are dismissed your only redress will be an employment tribunal and will probably fail. The tribunal would go in favour of the employer on the grounds that the dismissal was due to the economic downturn, and the recession being the reason we cut your wages by 35 % and you weren’t willing to assist, despite directors of T Clarke or BBES being on a 6 figure salary! How about them taking a pay cut, not a chance!

The committee came straight back to London to another meeting with the Rank and File and Conway Hall again to pass on the message of what what said in Leeds and a new motion was passed.

THE RANK AND FILE, are moving on despite Unite now. It has to be done .At London Construction Branch in Holborn on 17th August, 200 sparks took a unanimous vote to protest at Balfour Beatty site Blackfriars station on 24th August 6.30am, and also to protest at Westfield site Stratford the week after, 31st August 6.30 am. Sparks in the North West are looking to the same as London sparks, 24th/31st August in Manchester at NG Bailey site and BBES site.
These firms were the biggest subscribers to the black list and we must send them a message that we aren't standing for their attacks on us any longer. We may do other protests sites in coming weeks around the country.
The attacks on sparks and pipefitters will affect other trades too, bricklayers and chippies, right across the board .We would urge all workers in construction to support our struggle and assist in any way you can UCATT, GMB or non union members in solidarity.

And so the retaliation has begun. I will be there Wednesday 24th 6:30am, Blackfriars Station.
And so should YOU

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