Youth Against Racism in Europe

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Legal

2 February 2009

Refinery and power strike spreads:

FIGHT FOR JOBS – STOP THE RACE TO THE BOTTOM!

The strike of construction workers which began last week is continuing and looks as if it is spreading throughout the country with Sellafield and Heysham nuclear plants out. Workers at other plants, according to the BBC, have also decided to stay out, these include Grangemouth and Longannon in Scotland. Warrington and Staythope in Newark are also out as well.  The strikes are spreading from fiddlers ferry in Warrington to the Drax power station in Yorkshire.

The media are saying that the strikes are against foreign labour, while the government attacks striking workers for wanting protectionism. 

But as Keith Gibson, one of the unofficial strike committee at the Lindsey Oil Refinery (speaking in a personal capacity) said: “The workers of LOR, Conoco and Easington did not take strike action against immigrant workers. Our action is rightly aimed against company bosses who attempt to play off one nationality of worker against the other and undermine the NAECI [National Agreement for the Engineering and Construction Industry] agreement…

“This strike is to stop this race to the bottom. We are striking against the employers like Alstom and IREM who refuse to hire local labour. We are striking against the EU pro-business laws and court rulings that make it legal for employers to exploit cheap labour to maximise profits.

This strike is to stop employers undermining our national NAECI agreement and trying to break our trade union strength.”

There have been placards and strikers quoted calling for Gordon Brown to implement his autumn 2007 pledge to provide “British Jobs for British workers,” but many trade unionists have been arguing against that slogan, to make it clear that the strike is about refusing to let the employers destroy existing agreements, working conditions and rights.

The far-right, racist British National Party has been trying to use the strikes to whip up divisions between British workers and others on the sites, but left the Lindsey Oil Refinery protest when they were told they weren’t welcome.  And in a further blow to the BNP, the media and politicians who are trying to cast the workers on strike as racists, the mass picket at the Lindsey total refinery in North Lincolnshire today voted overwhelmingly for the following demands:

  • No victimisation of workers taking solidarity action.

  • All workers in UK to be covered by NAECI Agreement.

  • Union controlled registering of unemployed and locally skilled union members, with nominating rights as work becomes available.

  • Government and employer investment in proper training / apprenticeships for new generation of construction workers - fight for a future for young people.

  • All Immigrant labour to be unionised.

  • Trade Union assistance for immigrant workers - including interpreters - and access to Trade Union advice - to promote active integrated Trade Union Members.

  • Build links with construction trade unions on the continent.