Electricians across the country have won a major victory in their battle with major construction firms
Following several months of protests and unofficial walkouts, Balfour Beatty has abandoned the new contracts they were trying to force electricians working their sites to accept.
Balfour Beatty Engineering Services is just one of seven construction firms trying to impose worse conditions, but is widely seen as the most important. Sparks have taken determined action to stop pay cuts of up to 35%. This is a huge breakthrough in their ongoing campaign, which has inspired supporters far beyond the construction industry.
This victory follows yesterday's news that Balfour Beatty had lost a High Court attempt to get an injunction preventing strike action. The company was resorting to draconian anti-union laws in a bid to overturn a 67% vote for action in Unite's strike ballot last month.
Unite is now demanding that the other six construction firms do the same as Balfour Beatty and scrap the proposed contracts.
The sparks' campaign began last year with protests, initiated by grassroots activists, which spread rapidly. A prominent rank-and-file activist, Steve Kelly of Unite's London Construction Branch, told electricians: “You are all working class heroes. Well done to one and all.”
Unite general secretary Len McCluskey said:
“It is testament to the resolve of hard working construction workers who have stood shoulder to shoulder to defend their livelihoods. Continuing to impose these contracts would have resulted in a race to the bottom that would have been bad for the industry. We expect the other six construction firms to see sense and follow Balfour Beatty’s lead in talking seriously about securing livelihoods and bringing stability to the industry.”
Alex Snowdon is a Counterfire activist in Newcastle. He is active in the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, Stop the War Coalition and the National Education Union. He is the author of A Short Guide to Israeli Apartheid (2022).
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