Monday, 21 November 2011

Round Up Of Last Weeks Protests..........

Good evening all. Firstly my apologies for the delay in writing the round up of the weeks action.

The week started off with a bang when 200 electricians, pipe fitters and plumbers met up on Teeside from all over the North East.
The target for the day was the former Corus Steel Site, now SSI, in Redcar.

From the North East Rank And File 14/11/11

"We had 200 demonstrators at Corus steel today. This really was a magnificent turnout. All the sparks either walked off the job or didn't turn up for work.
There were HUNDREDS of cars waiting on the very busy dual carriageway approach roads to the steelworks while we talked to people going in to work.
Sam, one of our demonstrators was arrested for obstructing traffic. Immediately we formed ranks on the main road and blocked the traffic. We demanded to know from the police inspector why she had been lifted. He promised she would be released in half an hour without charge. We therefore left the road and sure enough she was released without charge.
All of these demonstrations the rank & file have organised are slowly reinforcing the lessons of trade unionism – stick together and fight the employer, the employer is the enemy. These lessons learnt over many years of struggle were lessons that employers, New Labour and full time officials had hoped were lost for good.
BUT NO to emphasise that these basic lessons are not lost we have heard that lads at Ratcliffe walked out in support of SPIE and Balfours walkouts at Corus.
This fight to protect national agreements IS WINNABLE if we stick together and focus on and target the employer. Some may not like this to be said but the full time officials will not help us. In fact they will sabotage us at the slightest chance. We have to continue OUR demonstrations that WE the rank and file organise. It is these rank and file demonstrations that forced the full time officials to organise a national ballot and the demonstration in London last Wednesday. Without us, the rank and file, taking unofficial action we would probably be on £10 an hour or been sacked.
If the employers can get away with abolishing the JIB agreements then they will do the same with all other national agreements such as naeci. Therefore THIS Wednesday we plan to go back to Corus to support the NAECI agreements and to tell the employers to back off from abolishing NAECI  or else"  
When the news spread across the other Spie sites that their colleagues at SSI had walked off and joined the protest, they too walked out.

From a Spie employee,


Monday the 14th of November during another excellent demonstration by the north
east rank and file at Corus steel in Redcar 18 SPIE employees and 50 Balfour employees voted to
withdraw their labour in support of the lads at the gate. With the rank and file
present there was around 180 sparks across both gates.

Word soon spread to Conoco philips in Seal sands, Billington 20 SPIE men who had
cabined up in solidarity then voted to withdraw their labour word spreading to other SPIE sites 34 men then
removed their workforce followed by 9 men at Sabic chemical site in Wilton, Redcar.
By midday Sabic in north tees another 11 men walked off the site, the 4 lads at Dawsons yard in Middlesbrough walked prompting lads on small 2 man gas board  local gas board jobs to walk although some of these numbers are small it is still 100 percent of the work force on each site maybe next time the Balfour and SPIE lads at Lindsey oil will follow."

Then on Wednesday, the North East Rank & File returned to SSI to support the Bluebook workers and also to highlight the JIB dispute.
There were SIXTEEN Bluebook sites out, including the SSI site. Sellafield, West Burton, Conoco, West Burton and Ratcliffe to name a few.
Once again there was a large turn out from the North East Rank & File. Both gates were blocked and the tail backs went on as far as the eye could see. Many passing cars leafleted and a very successful morning once again

Meanwhile in London.
I arrived around 6:30 and was met by a few familiar faces. We met at the same gate where we managed to storm the site a few weeks ago. Someone realised that when one of us walked near the gates, the security would lock the gates. A few of us went to the gate, the gates were locked and they wouldn't let anyone through.
Then some sneaky little bugger put a padlock on the gate for them. Confusion set in. When they finally realised what had happened it was too late. The security and a member of the management were locked in the site. No need to be by the gate anymore so we went back to the top of the ramp. After around twenty minutes the queue for site was 30 long. Padlock still secure.
Meanwhile the amount of people for the protest had grown to over 200. And across the road there were 100 Crown House and VVB workers gathered.
There were the usual speeches and speakers.
Finally around 8:30, they managed to get the padlock cut off. BUT the Crown House and VVB workers refused to cross the picket line. They finally entered work around 10am when the crowd dispersed.

There was also a protest in Liverpool by the North West Rank & File.

The protest in Manchester was called off due to the HUGH success they have had up there. Last week it was announced that Balfour Beatty were not awarded the second phase of Carrington Paper Mill, which has been the main location for the Manchester protests, due to the client being unhappy about the industrial unrest that was looming. Well done lads.
So instead they made their way over to Liverpool to join in with the protest at the Liverpool John Moore University. Around 50 were outside the site from early on and were joined by just over 20 lads who refused to cross the picket.

 There were also FOUR Rank & File meetings last week.

The Bristol and Leeds meeetings were very successful and a plan has been laid out for leafletting, possilbe targets and next meeting. Two sparks from Cardiff attended the Bristol meeting. They went back to Wales and booked a venue for the first South Wales Rank & File meeting

Wednesday 23rd November Cardiff - 7pm
The Owain Glyndwr Pub, Upstairs

The Sheffield meeting was cancelled at the last minute by the people who originally booked the venue. There will be another meeting arranged in Sheffield  in the next couple of weeks.

Then to end the week, there was a protest and march in the centre of Glasgow on Saturday.

From Scottish Rank & File

"We gathered outside Unite's Glasgow office and then went inside to discuss the plan of action. The police had only just been informed of our plans and they told us that we should have given them 28 days notice of our plans. Initially they said that we could march on the road, but later returned to say that we must stay on the pavement. We were then addressed by Jim Sheridan MP who passed on his support and said that he will do all he can to expose the 7 companies corporate greed. We were then addressed by Neil Findlay MSP, who again said he was fully behind us, he has submitted questions to the First Minister and also set up a Motion in the Scottish Parliament. Last to speak was Davey Brockett who always gets everyone fired up at meetings and protests, very good speaker. It was now time to take
to the street, by this time there were over 300 of us congregated on West Regent Street. We started our march down to George Square with air horns blasting and whistles blowing the whole way. Once we reached Buchanan Street which was very busy, there were Christmas shoppers with curious looks on their faces! They should know what it's all about now as we got some much needed exposure on the 17.50pm STV News bulletin. We then reached George Square and gathered in front of the City Chambers, where we were again addressed by Jim Sheridan and Neil Findlay. There was then a request for speakers from the floor. 2 speakers from the STUC pledging their support, and also a guy from the Occupy movement who said that theyare behind us and would get all the information out to their massive global network. A peaceful March, not everyones cup of tea but many of the objectives were achieved:
1. Show depth of feeling.
2. Get message out to public.
3. Public show of defiance against bosses.
3. Gather support from public and other groups.
4. Gather support from those in public office.
5. Maximise media attention.
6. Grow support for our cause among our own colleagues.

Perhaps next time a bit of civil disobedience should be used to up the ante!"

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