Sparks blockade at Crossrail

See video from REEL NEWS of Mondays Picket line & from day 3:

The opening BESNA battle ended in defeat for the employers. Wage cuts of 35% and changes to terms and conditions in the form of the Building and Engineering Service National Agreement (Besna) were defeated after a determined rank and file campaign from the sparks.

However the employers have not given up the war. There have been a number of attempts to bring Besnain through the back door as well as attempts to victimise the leaders of the rank and file.

These attacks took a more serious turn on Friday at the Crossrail site at Paddington, west London. EIS lost the contract on site which led to the sacking of 28 of the firm’s electricians, including three Unite stewards, with only a few hours’ notice.

Union activists see this as a blatant attempt to drive union organisation off site. A decision was made to picket the site on Monday morning (17 September) to demand that the sacked electricians be transferred to the incoming electrical contractors.

Over 40 sparks and their supporters gathered at 6am outside the main site entrance, beside Westbourne Park bus garage, and blockaded the site.

Construction workers' protest outside Paddington Crossrail site, 17.9.12, photo Neil Cafferky

Bollards and plastic barriers were scavenged from the site entrance to assemble a makeshift barricade. Traffic was delayed on the busy Great Western Road as numerous lorries were refused entry and eventually turned away.

The picket caused such a commotion that bus drivers from the nearby garage came out. One driver, seeing the Unite flags and clearly still reliving their recent strike victory, rushed over to the picket and asked: “Are we on strike again?”.

In frustration the security guard shoved Rob Williams (Chair of the NSSN) against the van bonnet. This provoked a furious reaction from the pickets, forcing the security guard to beat a hasty retreat back behind the police.

A number of Unite officials met with Crossrail project managers to discuss the sackings. At the time of writing, no progress had been made and plans are under way to picket again on Tuesday at 6:15am. (This is an edited report from Neil C in the Socialist).

Regular updates and information also available from ‘Electricians against the World

BACKGROUND On the Company from Blackist Support Group:

28 workers including a UNITE steward and safety rep have been dismissed from the Crossrail project because of they are members of a trade union. The unionised workers employed byE.I.S. Electrical were searched and removed from site last Friday at the instruction of Bam Ferrovial Kier  (BFK), the consortium of contractors building Crossrail.

Crossrail is going to be one of the largest infrastructure jobs in the whole of Western Europe – if it is unionised, the workforce will earn good wages and the job will be safe.  This is a deliberate attempt by BFK to intimidate workers and keep the union off the project, so they can keep wages down and force through rushed production targets.

Whatever nonsense BFK come up with to justify the dismissals, everyone knows there are 3-4 years work left on the project for these sparks alone. But as soon as the union appeared on the job, the steward was banned from the tunnel and forced to sit in the site offices at Westbourne Park for weeks on end. The Safety Rep was suspended and left to sit at home for the past 13 weeks. Eventually BFK threw EIS off the job just to get rid of the union.

The Managing Director of E.I.S. has given the union a witness statement and states that the only reason the workers and the reps have been removed from the job is because of the union presence.

This is a dispute about safety and money.  Even the EIS electrical engineer was sacked after he took a photograph of unsafe high voltage electrical cables. BFK are making money by playing with our lives.

BFK want to save money on Crossrail

We want to save lives on Crossrail

BAM and Kier (part of the BFK consortium) are proven blacklisters of trade union members. They were part of theConsulting Association blacklisting conspiracy exposed in 2009. There is documentary evidence that their senior managers and Directors have illegally victimised union members. We know exactly what they’ve been up to – We’re not going to stand for it on Crossrail. The sparks won their fight against BESNA pay cuts – The rank & file will win the fight for Crossrail.

 Site Worker    [email protected]

More reports: Union News