Scunthorpe scaffolders picket line Scunthorpe scaffolders picket line. Photo: John Westmoreland

Despite Actavo’s dirty war against the strikers, scaffolders have voted 83% in favour of continuing to strike, reports John Westmoreland

After twelve weeks on strike in the run up to Christmas, the Actavo scaffolders at Scunthorpe’s British steel plant have voted to fight on. The ballot for continuing the strike was 83 per cent in favour, and is testament to the fighting spirit the strikers have shown throughout.

The strike is about an extremely important principle. When trade unions and employers draw up a national agreement on pay it has to be respected – or it is worth nothing. The Actavo strikers want nothing more than the agreed rate for the job.

The strikers face dirty tactics from both Actavo and British Steel. Each has blamed the other for the impasse forcing the scaffolders to resort to industrial action. Now British Steel are saying that they might get rid of maintenance scaffolding on the site altogether, forcing redundancy on the scaffolders.

A dirty war

When the bosses get dirty our side has to step up and make the strike more effective. One option is to picket other Actavo sites – after all an injury to one is an injury to all. Another is to ask why, when the Tories are mouthing off about their ‘levelling-up’ agenda, is a company getting away with discriminating against a group of workers in this way? Labour should be shouting from the rooftops!

The fight against the Tories and their anti-trade union laws will have to be led by workers like the Actavo strikers. The movement needs to press Labour to call out the Tories on this. Demonstrations and lobbies outside MPs’ surgeries needs to happen and create a stir that the media can’t ignore.

We have to get behind the workers with the bottle to stand up and fight. And let’s make every effort to join together all the strikes currently taking place, and show the bosses and their Tory puppets that the working class still has collective power.

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John Westmoreland

John is a history teacher and UCU rep. He is an active member of the People's Assembly and writes regularly for Counterfire.

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