Support the EDF workers – striking again!

EDF ENERGY – “EXTREMELY DISHONOURABLE FELLOWS” Unite has come up with this new way to describe the energy company which has failed to honour an agreement made back in 2011. Incredibly, the multi million profit making company now claims that when it signed a pay deal with the Unite trade union in 2011, it had failed to do the sums and consequently realised that it could not afford the associated pension costs! It had also agreed to look at serious pay disparities suffered by workers in the South East region – but now it says it wants the workers to upskill first – something that was never in the 2011 agreement. On top of this, the union is in dispute with the company about its 2013 pay offer, which remains unresolved. Two days of strike action persuaded the employer to begin talks at ACAS, but these broke down last week after the employer played daft games during negotiations. Unite offered to continue talks – but senior managers refused, because they said they had a planned trip to Paris! EDF really are a company that need to get a taste of the lives lived by working class people. This company refuses to pass on its profits and cut bills for customers – it also refuses to allow workers to have a decent share of the profits which those workers make for the company. During one set of negotiations, the company made what they thought was a serious offer to settle this long running and bitter dispute – an increase of £20 a year before tax! A third day of strike action in London, the South East, South West and Eastern region took place on 16th June. This will be followed by two weeks of action beginning on 17th June involving meter readers, they will be followed by a second wave of 40 workers a week latter. A wide ranging work to rule began on 17th June. The campaign will be lobbying EDF HQ buildings and the French Embassy over the coming weeks – its a campaign that Unite is determined to win. This campaign is the first strike campaign at EDF since the early 1990’s – its a very clear example of a very changed mood generally, where workers are increasingly confident and given a lead are prepared to take strike action. This campaign is about the companies failure to abide by a pay agreement and its unacceptable below inflation offer for 2013, but worker after worker at EDF has made clear that this is also about making a stand against an appalling employer. EDF is clearly more concerned about image than the financial welfare of its employees. Before every meeting, even a disciplinary or pay negotiations, all parties are expected to debate the “safety message” of the day. This may be along the lines of “how do we avoid stress at work”. This is clearly cosmetic nonsense – if the company really cared about alleviating stress, it would pay workers what they are owed. Rather than doing the decent thing and paying up, the company claims it has the strike covered. It will get the message loud and clear over the coming weeks – Unite will take the action required to win. Onay Kasab Unite officer