Construction

Taking on Crossrail

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Simon Basketter reports on an important step forward in the battle to rebuild union organisation across construction sites.

Frank Morris, an electrician sacked in a blacklisting case after raising health and safety concerns, won his job back last month. It was a stunning victory for union campaigning. Frank, a Unite union member, was dismissed over a year ago from London's Crossrail project, Europe's largest railway and infrastructure construction scheme.

Jerry Hicks - a rank and file challenge: now organise!

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Jerry Hicks stood as a rank and file candidate in the recent elections for the general secretary of Unite, the biggest union in Britain. He received 79,819 votes, 36 percent of the vote. Socialist Review spoke to Jerry about why he stood and the lessons of the campaign


Firstly, congratulations on the fantastic vote you received. Many people would see Len McCluskey as one of the most left wing trade union leaders in Britain at the moment, so why did you decide to stand against him?

The election was heading to be unopposed, not because everyone was in agreement with McCluskey, but because it had been manoeuvered to orchestrate this. The reason that it was pulled forward three years from the scheduled date was to spring it on people.

Electricians dispute: sparks victorious!

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Electricians have won a stunning victory which should give hope to us all. After a six-month-long battle they have defeated the wage-cutting plans of multinational corporations

On 23 February electricians learned that the remaining companies committed to the British Engineering Services National Agreement (Besna) had withdrawn the threat of imposing the new contracts.

The "sparks" had been protesting since August last year when there was an inaugural rank and file dispute meeting of some 500 people in London. From day one there was a determination to get right up the noses of the electrical contracting bosses. Gate protests, street blockades, site occupations and picketing were the militant tactics employed on a weekly basis.

Construction lessons

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Electricians have been protesting for months against wage cuts and attacks on their terms and conditions. Last December workers took unofficial strike action. Simon Basketter looks at the background to this battle and the prospects for rebuilding union organisation on construction sites.

On a freezing Wednesday night on 7 December last year, a small group of men stand on a street in animated discussion. Every now and again, someone else joins their group and talks to them for a few minutes. After over half an hour, they decide to go to the pub. It was a small, but nonetheless significant event.

Sparks give employers a shock

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I started working in the construction industry in 1993 as an apprentice electrician. Since then I have witnessed not just the lack of real-term pay rises, but also a year on year assault on our terms and conditions through forced bogus self-employment. So when I received a text message at the beginning of August from the London construction branch secretary calling a meeting to discuss how the eight biggest electrical contractors in the country wanted to tear up our 30 year old national agreement, my heart sank.

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