Monday, 23 January 2012

Two Weeks Of Action Gets The New Year Rolling

This month seems like it is going on forever. There have already been over 20 protests across the country and several walk outs. Most notably by the Spie lads out of the Thornby Branch who are walking out EVERY Wednesday from now on.

Wednesday 11th January
We met in London at the crack of dawn for our first visit of the new year top Balfour Beatty at Blackfriars Station. There were around 150 there to remind Balfours that we are still here and are not going away.

There were around 50 in Cardiff at the Spie site at Llandough Hospital. Once again, ALL of the labour on site joined the protest and refused to enter.

In Manchester there was a protest outside the NG Bailey site at Manchester Town Hall where the Rank & File committee will soon be meeting with the local councillors.

In the North East they met up at the Spie site, Hartlepool Power Station and even managed to make it on to the regional ITV News. Around 200 gathered outside causing havoc with the incoming traffic all morning. Once again, the Spie workers refused to enter.

Friday 13th January
Finally we get to Friday and its Scotland's turn. They all met up nice and early outside Balfour Beatty, Grangemouth Refinery. Over 200 in total with the addition of the complete Balfour Beatty workforce joining the lines on top. They had an exciting morning going from gate, to tanker gate, to offices. Making sure that EVERYONE who uses the refinery knew that they were there.
Unite Scotland made a video of the morning

"We are not political activists, we are not anarchists, we are Balfour Beatty employees who deserve to be treated with respect"

Saturday 14th January was the National Rank & File Meeting. Held in Birmingham at the Carrs Lane Centre.
There were around 100 of us in attendance from all over the country. London, Manchester, Liverpool, North East, Scotland and most notably, the large Welsh dragon draped over the shoulders of one contingent.

Speakers included Gail Cartmail (Unite Assistant General Secretary), Bryan Higgins (Blacklisted construction worker), Steve Acheson (North West R&F), Russ Blakely (Pipefitter, National committee member) and Steve Kelly (Electrician, National committee member).

Steve Kelly Chaired the meeting.

Gail started proceedings with an update from the Unite side of the battle. She explained that challenging the first Balfour Beatty ballot in the courts would have taken longer than re-balloting.
Out of the 1250 affected BBES employees, over 800 of them will be balloted.
The ballot opens on Thursday 19th January and closes on Thursday 2nd February.
Balfour Beatty had already lodged a complaint over ballot discrepancies even though the ballot had not even started.
Unite are fully expecting a legal challenge from Balfour Beatty again.
Unite are going to be balloting Spie and NG Bailey after the result of the BBES is in.
A question was asked about balloting EVERY electrician, pipefitter and plumber as it indirectly effects everyone. - Where it was possible to do this before under a secondary action ballot, due to anti Trade Union Laws this is no longer possible.
There are now, fortnightly newsletters being distributed by Unite.
Gail then talked about the ACAS meeting. Gail, Steve Acheson and two others attended the meeting. Unite did not request the meeting, ACAS invited them along.
As soon as Unite found out that Steve Quant was on the HVCA team they refused to enter talks. For those who are not familiar with this man. He worked for Skanska. He was heavily involved with the Blacklist and is said to have been Ian Kerrs right hand man. (Ian Kerr was the person who maintained and sold on the blacklist)
Unite filed just one request. Remove the threat of dismissal from the employees and then we will talk. The HVCA team went back to the MDs of the seven and they all came back with the same response. NO
Since Christmas, Unite have again been contacted by ACAS to further talks. This time Unite refused and decided to get on with the ballot.
Unite believe they can attack BESNA under the Anit Competition Laws and are currently exploring the legality of BESNA in Scotland and Wales.
Unite are keeping a close eye on what is happening on the NAECI sites at the moment as they firmly believe that the seven will come for them next.
Several clients and one large one from the North East has been in contact with Unite asking for compensation for lost hours when workers have walked off of the jobs. Unites response was 'ring the HVCA'
And Unite are currently looking at improving press coverage with possibly having full page adverts in  National papers.

Brian Higgins then spoke at length about blacklisting , how it effects people and their families. He has the largest blacklist file known at 49 pages long.

Steve Acheson, Welsh Rank & File and Russ Blakely also spoke.

The meeting finished with a date for the next National meeting, Saturday 4th February. Carrs Lane Centre, Birmingham.

Monday 16th, over 150 M&E Workers met up outside the NG Bailey job at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary. 

Tuesday 17th, ALL M&E Workers walk off of the job at Ratcliffe Power Station, Spie Site.

Wednesday 18th 
Around 100 of us met outside the Tommy Clarkes job on Oxford Street, London.

In Cardiff there was another good turnout which stopped the site for the morning at Llandough Hospital, Cardiff. Spie Site.

The North East once again arrived at Hartlepool Power Station and this resulted in Spie Management having to answer some serious questions to the client.

That evening, the Scottish Rank & File committee met with the Scottish Nationalist Party at Hollyrood. This meeting turned out to be very positive, they were very knowledgeable and one of them had in the past worked for various bodies in relation to training apprentices and skills etc. She completely agreed with us about the erosion of standards and SAFETY!!! She doesn't think they stand a chance, at least in Scotland because they haven't got approval from the SQA Authorities for grading anybody.

Thursday 19th
The Welsh Rank & File Committee met with members of the Welsh Assembly and also received very positive responses.

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