Sunday, 22 June 2014

Employers continue their de-skilling agenda!

Employers Continue Their De-skilling Agenda!

By A.N. Gryspark

So it's 2/3 years since the employers charter, BESNA was thrown our way, and was successfully stopped from coming into existence(although we all know it goes on). However, we are not naive enough to think that the employers would give up with their agenda of de-skilling the industry, are we? Of course not, and as expected it has arrived at our door once again through the JIB agreement! 

The deal on offer from the ECA is quite clear on what it is about, accept a 2%(30p) rise for 2015, a 3%(45p) rise for 2016 but you must agree to the introduction of 2 new "Entrant Grades" as they are calling them.

So what are these "Entrant Grades"?

These grades will be below the labourer grade, so their plan is to have individuals working up to 18 months in the industry while they are "assessed" by the employer to see if they are competent to be progressed to Labourer grade or Adult Trainee stage 1.

They talk about the new grade as providing a welcome alternative to agency employment for inexperienced unskilled operatives. My question to that is what about the skilled electricians already in the industry who are forced into agency employment? Where is the alternative for them? It is seems to me that what will end up happening is that the “Entrant Grade” people will be directly employed while the skilled guys will all be working through agencies. That in turn will affect the JIB/SJIB rates as it will always be the unskilled who get the vote on the pay and conditions offer while the skilled guys who will have no vote, will have to work for whatever the ECA offers in the future. It is a disgrace and it must be stopped.

Rates of pay and flow chart(attach photos)

Further to that as you can see from their "progression" flow chart that there is no mention of the traditional school leaver apprenticeship, which is an absolute disgrace! They will be claiming about skills shortages as their reasoning behind this, but the fact is, it is them who have created the skills shortage by not bringing through larger numbers of apprentices. Something which they will claim that they can't afford. 

I know a few labourers who would like the chance to progress, but they aren't getting the opportunity and now the employers are going to try and flood the industry with unskilled individuals quite clearly to get them to do all the containment on the cheap! If they are so worried about a skills shortage then their first port of call should be more youth apprenticeship, especially when youth unemployment is sitting at 19%.

They are basically asking sparks to sell a big chunk of the work of an electrician for 75p an hour over the 2 year deal!!! If people remember back to the 90's when they tried it on with the Skilled Mechanical Assembler (SMA), they tried to buy us off with a £1.50 an hour rise which was rejected, so this proves how weak they think we are. 

This offer has been rejected by the shop stewards committee and the negotiating team have went back to demand a 4% and 4.5% rise with no strings attached. The employers have walked away from talks as the stewards committee have made it clear that they will not accept the “Entrant Grades” under any circumstances, so this is why we need to build up the Rank & File army again, bigger than BESNA. The shop stewards need the backing of the membership to help get rid of this "Entrant Grade" and confine it to the bin! Cards in guys with JIB firms need to join Unite, as it looks as though the offer will be going to a ballot of the members with a recommendation of “Reject” by Unite,  then it needs to be rejected on a massive scale.

Stuff the pay rise, what we need is more direct employment with a massive Unite membership to give the union the mandate to force the JIB rates up. The last pay deal was extremely poor and over 14000 ballot papers were sent out and only 800 or so were returned and the deal went through, what happened to the other 13200? Everyone who is cards in with a JIB/SJIB firm needs to be in Unite, we know the lack of direct employment is a ploy to keep union membership down and it is a nonsense that all legit JIB/SJIB cardholders can't get a vote, but that is the draconian trade union laws that prevent that unfortunately. That is something that needs to change and we should be forcing that issue politically.

The blacklist removed good stewards and activists from the industry to fight for us and get a better deal, then bogus self-employment came in to remove people from direct employment in order to undermine the collective bargaining within the agreement. The odds have been stacked against us for decades but the opportunity is there for the taking through the umbrella scam to force the mobs to take more people on the books. All the campaigns are linked, blacklisting, the umbrella scam and now the latest fight against the de-skilling agenda. 

Because of all of this, it is vital that all those cards in with JIB/SJIB companies are members of Unite to reject the ECA's offer when it goes to ballot and everyone who is a member should make sure that Unite have their correct details including address to ensure they get a ballot paper.

In the meantime we need to start organising big R&F meetings like we did during BESNA to swell our ranks and build solidarity across the UK.  This is our industry, It's time we took it back!!!!

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