NSSN 366: BiFab – Scottish workers’ action secures breakthrough


Workers at the three threatened Burntisland Fabrication – BiFab – yards have won a guarantee that their jobs and wages will be secured, at least until April 2018. Their decisive action over the last week, and those of the GMB and Unite trade unions, has delivered this important breakthrough.


Watch the Scottish TUC’s video of the workers’ protest outside the Scottish Parliament.

From an article by NSSN supporters in Scotland:-

On 12th November, the company said it had no money to pay wages and was giving notice that it intended to enter administration. The threat to 1400 workers who either work for BiFab or who rely on the company for work via contractors was hanging by a thread.

At mass meetings on Monday of last week workers agreed to a “work-in” in order to complete the contract – without being paid – but also to ensure they occupied the sites to prevent any attempts at asset-stripping.

As Gary Smith, Scottish secretary of the GMB, told the rally outside the Scottish parliament: “If you had not occupied those yards on Monday then your jobs would have gone and the yards shut.”

The decisive action taken on Monday in occupying the yards, beginning a “work-in”, the mass march on Thursday to the Scottish parliament to demand government action has paid off.

The major companies involved in the project have agreed to provide BiFab with money that will allow the work to continue and workers to be paid. Unite and the GMB said following the announcement: “Make no mistake these yards would be closed today if it wasn’t for the dignity and determination of the workers and their families in Fife and Lewis to save their jobs and industry.”

The threat of BiFab entering into administration, management claimed, was due to money going unpaid to them by the Dutch company Seeway Heavy Lifting. SHL are contracted by the Scottish power giant SSE whose Beatrice Windfarm Project the BiFab workers are employed in.

As a result of the action of the workforce, the Scottish Government and the main companies involved agreed an arrangement that would ensure wages were paid and the jobs guaranteed until the end of the project. The fact that the completed wind turbine platforms would not be released by the workers would have been an important factor in SHL and SSE agreeing to a deal.

However, as NSSN supporters have called for, only an opening of the books of all parties involved in this project for inspection by the trade unions would get to the bottom of what was really going on. The unions should demand full access to this information to get a real picture of what is happening to BiFab.

1,000 workers, their families and trade union supporters marched to to the Holyrood parliament building on Thursday to demand action. More than 600 workers walked off the job at Burntisland and Methil in Fife to travel to Edinburgh for the demonstration. However, dozens of workers stayed behind to blockade the gates of the yards to ensure none of the completed work could be moved.

The GMB convener for BiFab, Mike Sullivan, called on the Scottish Government to take the plants under their control and to ensure wages were paid. With the political pressure for action growing. The day after the demonstration, SNP First Minister Nicola Sturgeon flew back to Scotland from Germany to broker meetings with the major companies.

NSSN members have called for the public ownership of BiFab to defend the jobs and skills, and for workers control and occupation of the yards. As is the norm today in these big projects a labyrinth of contractors and sub-contractors are used by big business to lower costs and increase profit.

Contractors continually attempt to drive down costs, targeting wages, sick pay, holiday entitlements, safety etc. That’s why NSSN members call for the nationalisation of the major energy and construction firms to guarantee full rights and the rate for the job across the industry.

With renewables, oil decommissioning and waste to energy projects increasingly important for jobs, public ownership and democratic control by workers and the government is essential. We need an end to the blatant profiteering of the multi-nationals and a public owned sustainable energy sector.

While this victory for the workers at BiFab is welcome, the future of the company is still uncertain after April 2018. The jobs and the yards could be secured with a programme of massive investment into the renewable industry and public sector control of the energy and fabrication industry. BiFab should be brought into public ownership by the Scottish Government to secure the skills and jobs there



Support the Royal Mail workers: DGSP Terry Pullinger reacts to Royal Mail Half-Year results watch video

CWU RM logo

DGST&FS Andy Kerr video update on BT Pensions

‘Close The Gap’ tour reaches its crescendo (Nov 21) – The CWU’s high profile Close the Gap tour of the UK to expose the second class treatment of around 2,000 Manpower employees working on the BT account is now reaching its crescendo – with a busy programme of activity due to round off the third and final week of the present bout of ‘on the road’ campaigning with a bang. Yesterday (Monday) Sandwell was the focus of attention – and the Birmingham , Black Country & Worcester branch pulled out all the stops to lay on a colourful and photogenic day of campaigning to ensure that huge discrepancies in pay rates between agency employees and BT contract staff conducting directly comparable roles could not possible be ignored. On Thursday (November 23) the Close the Gap tour will have its final hurrah with a split-site day of campaigning outside BT call centres on opposite sides of the Irish Sea in Portadown and Liverpool bringing the tour to a suitably up-beat  conclusion read more


#SACKTHETORIES – Budget Day protests

Stop the Universal Credit Crisis – Stop Tax Avoidance – Fund Our NHS

Day of action ahead of the Budget Tuesday 21 November, Nationwide, including outside Downing Street 6pm details of protests on People’s Assembly website

Sign the petition to scrap the public sector pay cap

Fight for Education – protest Budget Day November 22nd (called by Socialist Students)



NSSN news

There was an excellent NSSN Solidarity Forum on October 28th in Birmingham.

Over 80 union reps and members discussed how to build support for the increasing number of disputes, including the CWU in Royal Mail, Unite at Birmingham bins, PCS in DWP, BFAWU in McDonalds and the fight to scrap the public sector pay cap. We also heard from campaigners fighting to keep the Derby Women’s Centre open. If you want to organise a similar event in your area, email us via [email protected] 

Get your trade union branch or trades council to affiliate to the NSSN – it only costs £50. Already affiliated? Please think about renewing it. Also, many of our supporters pay a few pounds a month. You can set up a similar standing order to ‘National Shop Stewards Network’, HSBC – sort code 40-06-41, account number 90143790. Our address is NSSN, PO Box 54498, London E10 9DE. Affiliation letter is below

Download the ‘Join the NSSN’ leaflet here

And if you can, come to one of our regional Conferences. If there is not one in your area, get in touch to either assist in organising or have a speaker at one of your meetings or events. Contact Rob or Linda on [email protected]

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Follow us on twitter via @NSSN_AntiCuts and Facebook


Union News


Pay talks ‘insult’ as Arriva North West bus workers gear up for nine days of strikes in December (17 Nov) – Pay talks to avert more bus strikes in the north west broke up today (Friday 17 November), after the bosses offered an ‘insulting’ one penny extra an hour to the hourly rate, Unite said. Talks were held as more than 2,000 bus drivers and engineering staff working for Arriva North West are set to hold nine days of strike action in the run-up to Christmas. Unite said that the management had today offered an additional one penny per hour on its previous offer. The union will ballot its members next week on the latest offer, with the strong recommendation to reject. Unite members at 11 depots across the north west will walk out during their shifts on 4,7,12,13,14,20,21,22 and 23 December. Strikes for Monday (20 November) and 27 November have already been announced. The company presented its final offer with conditions attached which were completely unacceptable to the Unite and GMB trade unions read more   GMB: Arriva Strikes To Go Ahead

Shocking levels of mental illness and stress revealed problems among Manchester housing workers, as Mears strike action resumes (from Unite website) – Send messages of support to Unite rep Colin Pitt: [email protected] and Unite regional officer [email protected] and post donations to: Unite House, Merchants Quay, Salford Quays, Salford M50 3SG


Mears picket line

Join the protest outside Fujitsu’s UK headquarters in London December 5th from 8.30am – Unite is campaigning to save jobs and to defend the union against attempts to victimise reps. At 10am on Tuesday 5 December, Fujitsu will reconvene the final redundancy hearing for Ian Allinson (chair of Unite, Fujitsu UK) which was adjourned on 8 November. Ian is one of several reps being unfairly targeted by the company Facebook event. For more information on the campaign, see https://ouruniontest.wordpress.com/fujitsu-national-dispute/

Sign the petition: Parliament must clean up its act – recognise Unite, its workers’ trade union

Support Birmingham binworkers – send messages of support via [email protected] and donations to Unite the Union, 9-17 Victoria St, West Bromwich B70 8HX

Support Argos warehouse workers – please send messages of support to [email protected]. Strike fund donations should be made payable to Unite the Union and sent to Paula Hutchinson, 37 Camden Road, Airedale, Castleford, WF10 3LY



Join PCS post-Budget Facebook Live event 7pm 27 November

PCS holds vigil outside Victoria and Albert Museum to demand reinstatement of Trans member read more

PCS vigil outside V&A museum on Nov 20 with National President Janice Godrich, Vice-President Zita Holbourne & Assistant General Secretary Chris Baugh
PCS vigil outside V&A museum on Nov 20 with National President Janice Godrich, Vice-President Zita Holbourne & Assistant General Secretary Chris Baugh

Bootle PCS protest demanding a Living Wage for HMRC cleaners employed by ISS. Noon, Tuesday 28 November, outside The Triad on Stanley Road.

Pay strike at army training centre (20 Nov) – PCS members who train army personnel in tank and armoured vehicle driving, maintenance, gunnery, and communications are striking over pay on budget day. PCS members voted overwhelmingly for strike action after Babcock made a below inflation pay offer of 2.4%. This is despite Babcock International Group’s pre-tax profit rising from £275 million in 2013 to £498.8 million in 2017 read more

PCS answers DVSA on driving test strike (16 Nov) – PCS have issued a strong rebuttal to DVSA following the announcement of strike dates. Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) announced the start dates for industrial action for members who work for the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) in a dispute over the new driving test and also working patterns. A work to rule will begin on 23 November and strike dates set for 4 and 5 December. A strike ballot in October saw an 84% vote for strike action on a 70% turnout read more

Support the Sheffield and Plymouth DWP strikes:

  • Send messages of support to [email protected]
  • Send donations to the strike fund to PCS DWP Group, 3rd Floor, Town Centre House, Merrion Centre, Leeds, LS2 8LY




Strike action goes ahead on Arriva Cross Country (17 Nov) – RAIL UNION RMT confirmed this morning that strike action by train managers and senior conductors on Arriva Cross Country in a dispute over abuse of rostering  and Sunday working goes ahead as planned on Sunday after management wrecked talks this week aimed at reaching a solution. The action will impact on services from Plymouth to Aberdeen and points in between on Britain’s most wide-ranging rail operation.The schedule of strike action remains as follows due to the management actions. Cross Country Train Manager members are instructed not to book on for any shifts that commence between:-

  • 00.01 hours and 23.59 hours on Sunday 19th November 2017
  • 00.01 hours and 23.59 hours on Sunday 26th November 2017
  • 00.01 hours on Saturday 9th December 2017 and 23.59 hours on Sunday 10th December 2017
  • 00.01 hours and 23.59 hours on Sunday 24th December 2017
  • 00.01 hours and 23.59 hours on Sunday 31st December 2017 read more

RMT ballots for action on Virgin East Coast over attempt to impose two-tier workforce (17 Nov) – RAIL UNION RMT will be balloting members on Virgin East Coast after the company decided to impose a pay offer that had previously been rejected by the workforce. The offer sought to impose inferior conditions under further productivity and efficiency savings, despite an ongoing reorganisation that has already given the business many savings for this and future years. Terms and conditions of hand-selected grades are being attacked, with others being better rewarded and left alone read more

Massive vote for strike action on Virgin West Coast (16 Nov) – RAIL UNION RMT confirmed today that members on Virgin West Coast services have voted massively by over nine to one in favour of both strike action and action short of a strike in a dispute over pay justice. The ballot that closed today included nearly 1800 Train Managers, On Board Catering, Station, Clerical and Retail Grades on the West Coast route from Glasgow down to Euston. The vote returned massive majorities for both strike action and action short of a strike on a high turnout of those eligible to vote read more

National dispute fund (DOO disputes) – If you would like to donate to the RMT National Dispute Fund which makes payments to support their striking members taking part in National DOO disputes then you can donate via PayPal using the donate button below or make a cheque payable to RMT National Dispute Fund and send it to the address below. Alternatively, you can ring their Freephone helpline on 0800 376 3706 who will be happy to process a credit card payment for you, or, if you would like to pay via internet banking, please email [email protected] for further details. Vicky Thompson, Finance Manager RMT, 39 Chalton Street, London NW1 1JD. Tel: 020-7529-8843

Defend the Right to Picket Demo – Saturday 25th November 2pm Brighton Station – As you will be aware the RMT are in a long running dispute with Southern Rail about the removal of guards from trains. The RMT had previously been running effective pickets at the back of Brighton station that many drivers were refusing to cross. To try to stop this Southern have threatened strong legal action under the anti-union laws to move the pickets well away from the station. Please head down to the station on Saturday at 2pm to show your support for having guards on our trains and for the right for union members to picket their own workplace without fear of victimisation



TSSA balloting for strike action on Virgin Trains West Coast over pay justice (16 Nov) – Ballot papers for strike action went to TSSA members this week. The ballot will close at noon on Tuesday 28 November, with the ballot result being announced that afternoon. Following the announcement by our sister union RMT, showing strong support for strike action, we will coordinate our action with the RMT read more




POA Rally and Lobby of Parliament – 2.30pm Tuesday 5th December POA website



UCU warns of chaos on campus if pension row not resolved (17 Nov) – UCU has warned of chaos in universities as lectures and classes are cancelled in the new year if a row over changes to the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS) is not resolved. UCU said proposals to remove the guaranteed level of pension benefits for hundreds of thousands of university staff were a bolt from the blue and that it would ballot members for industrial action in a ballot that will open Monday 27 November and close on Friday 19 January. Under plans from Universities UK (UUK), guaranteed pension benefits through a defined benefit scheme would be replaced by a defined contribution scheme, where retirement income would depend on returns from money invested in the stock market read more

UCU Strike Brighton University Thursday 23rd and Friday 24th – Members of the UCU at the University of Brighton will walk out on strike on Thursday at 1pm in dispute about compulsory redundancies. They will continue their strike on Friday and then begin a work-to-contract the following Monday. Further strike action is planned for December. The action follows a ballot which returned majorities in favour of action of more than 85%.
If you can head down to any of the Uni sites from 8pm on Friday to show support on the picket lines please do.
Please send messages of support to [email protected]



FBU lobby of Scottish Parliament ‘No More Cuts’ – 11am Thursday 23rd November

Firefighters’ union wins right to challenge dangerously long working patterns (17 Nov) – The High Court this week made the decision to allow a judicial review early in 2018 into a shift pattern that sees firefighters spend 96 hours straight on duty. The Fire Brigades Union (FBU), who sought the review, wholeheartedly welcome the court’s decision.  They say these long shifts, known as the ‘close proximity crewing’ or CPC system, pose a threat to safety due to an increased risk of fatigue due to being on duty for such a lengthy period. The case was taken to the high court after South Yorkshire Fire Authority included the problematic shift system in its three year ‘risk management plan’, in spite of having been vigorously challenged by the FBU since 2012, and the shift system having being slammed in an Employment Tribunal in December 2015.  It is also in breach of both European and UK law read more



Industry figures call for Picturehouse to settle pay dispute – Industry figures, including I Daniel Blake producer Rebecca O’Brien and Suffragette director Sarah Gavron, write open letter to Picturehouse. Fifty-five high profile figures in the British film industry have written an open letter to Picturehouse, and parent company Cineworld, calling for an end to the long running dispute with BECTU members over the Living Wage read more

Donate to the strike fund: https://www.crowdpac.co.uk/campaigns/250/picturehousestrike

Keep supporting the Picturehouse workers: read the latest on Brixton Ritzy Facebook Page and those of Hackney, Crouch End, Central, Dulwich East and Duke of York Brighton



Stop the redundancies at Donegal Democrat & negotiate, says NUJ (16 Nov) – Iconic Newspapers must halt the proposed redundancies at the Donegal Democrat and negotiate with the union. Three staff positions are being targeted by the company, even though journalists at the paper are already struggling with heavy workloads. The company is offering only statutory redundancy to those it wants to make compulsorily redundant. The NUJ has contacted the company to seek talks but has not received a formal response from Iconic. As a result, the NUJ has written to all the politicians including TDs, senators and councillors in Donegal; asking them to contact the group editorial director, Alan English, to tell the company to stop the redundancies and engage with the union read more



McDonald’s set for more strikes as action spreads across Britain (19 Nov) – Concerns over low wages, zero-hours contracts and mishandling of sexual assault claims are at root of unrest. Strike action at McDonald’s is to spread to outlets across the country in the coming months, following the lead of workers at two restaurants in the south of England. Dossiers on claims made by staff, ranging from the company’s alleged failure to provide protective equipment for workers using grills to allegations about management mishandling sexual assault claims, are being compiled by trade unionists. The September strikes were the first at McDonald’s since it opened in the UK in the 1970s read more from the Observer. Keep sending solidarity to the BFAWU, donate to the strike fund and also help the fund by buying a #McStrike t-shirt. More info on the Fast Food Rights/Hungry for Justice website

Better Than Sliced Bread – BFAWU and Warburtons Secure Landmark New Deal – In terms of money generated for the UK economy, the food and drink sector contributes nearly as much as the automotive and aerospace sectors put together and directly employs around 400,000 people! But for too long the sector, and more importantly the people that work within it, have not got the recognition they deserve. As a result, for the most part, food workers have been woefully underpaid and under-protected. Quite simply this situation is unacceptable and quite ridiculous when you think that without these workers there would be no food on our plates. I’m therefore really happy to report back on a landmark new deal that we have helped secure for the people working at Warburtons. Warburtons, the largest bakery brand in the UK, has been around for over 140 years. But to ensure it is around for even longer, it recognised that it needed to modernise its terms and conditions – to make the business more flexible so that it was better able to meet the changing needs of its customers read more from Ian Hodson (National President BFAWU)



Support the Royal Devon and Exeter porters by donating to their hardship fund. Send a cheque to the branch at: UNISON Office, Baker House
, Royal Devon & Exeter NHS Trust, Barrack Road, Exeter EX2 5DW. Or make a direct donation to the branch account

Account Name: UNISON Royal Devon and Exeter Health 10296 Branch

Account Number: 20323929 Sort Code: 60-83-01



University of London In-House Now – Foundation Day Protest Tuesday November 21st – 6pm University of London, Senate House, Malet St, London, WC1E 7HU Facebook event   Donate to campaign

IWGB files landmark case to extend trade union rights of outsourced workers (Nov 21) – IWGB will argue that outsourced workers at the University of London have the right to collectively bargain over pay and conditions with the institution. Denying these rights is a breach of Article 11 of the European Convention on Human Rights. Protest and strike to be held today (21 November) at the university, coinciding with visit of Princess Anne read more



Protest for Beatriz! – Until recently, Beatriz was employed as a cleaner at number 1 Finsbury Circus by Regular Cleaning Limited. Until they sacked her without cause, and without following due process, that is. You can help Beatriz get her job back, and together we can stop this injustice. 12noon every Friday, 24 November–15 December Finsbury Circus, London, EC2M 7 Facebook event



Other news

An Evening of Solidarity with Academics & Teachers In Turkey (hosted by Solidarity with the People of Turkey) – 6.30pm 23rd November in National Education Union, Hamilton House, Mabledon Pl, Kings Cross, London WC1H 9BD Facebook event

Pentonville 5: celebrate a great working class victory and apply its lessons today to fight the attack on trade unions – Friday December 1st 2017 18.00 East Ham working men’s club, 2 Boleyn Road London E6 1QE. Nearest tube – Upton Park. Buses 5, 58, 115, 147 – Speakers include Len McCluskey Unite GS, Ann Field, Ken Loach plus special guests, bar, refreshments

Public Rally hosted by ‘Save North Tyneside NHS: No cuts. closures or compromises – Hands off our NHS! 12pm Saturday 2nd December Bedford Street, North Shields, NE29 0 Facebook event




Blacklisting & Victimisation

Buy the book ‘Blacklisted: The Secret War between Big Business and Union Activists’ Author: Dave Smith and Phil Chamberlain. Blacklisted tells the controversial story of the illegal strategies that transnational construction companies used to keep union activists away from work.

Blacklist Support Group financial appeal: the Blacklist support group is desperately short of funds, to continue the incredible work we need more finance, would you please consider making a donation, raise it at your branches and trade councils. Please make cheques payable to Joint sites committee and send to 70 Darnay Rise Chelmsford Essex CM1 4XA. Please forward onto your contacts many thanks Steve Kelly (JSC Treasurer)

Blacklist Demo and lobby of Parliament – 12pm Wednesday December 6th Old Palace Yard Westminster SW1P 3JY Facebook event

Uproar In Court After Mitting Says Spycops May Never Be Named (Nov 20) – Activists spied on by undercover police officers interrupted the new chair of the troubled spycop inquiry today after he told the court that many officers’ real identities may never be released. Sir John Mitting, the judge who took over the inquiry from the late Sir Christopher Pitchford, used his first appearance in court to stress his determination to “discover the truth.” Read more in Morning Star

Book http://newint.org/books/politics/blacklisted-secret-war/

Video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JlCa8yQmZ70

Blog: www.hazards.org/blacklistblog

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/groups/blacklistSG/

Donate to ReelNews – http://reelnews.co.uk/donationssubscriptions/




Iran: Jailed trade union activist seriously ill – On Saturday 11 November Mahmoud Salehi, a jailed and seriously ill Iranian trade unionist, was moved back to Saqqez prison from the Khomeini Hospital in Saqqez, despite the pleas of his family. Mahmoud Salehi, 55, is an Iranian labour activist and trade unionist from Iranian Kurdistan. He is a co-founder of the Coordinating Committee for Forming Labour Organisations. He has spent two and a half years in prison just for taking part in this committee. Other political charges brought against him have meant he has spent a total of eight years in prison since the 1979 revolution read more plus details of how to send protests









30 National Shop Stewards Network 2018 Annual Conference 11am-4.30pm Conway Hall, Red Lion Square, Holborn, London



PHONE 07952 283 558

EMAIL mailto:[email protected]


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ADDRESS NSSN, PO Box 54498, London E10 9DE