Monday, 31 October 2011


Saturday 11.30am to 5pm on November 5th, 2011
The Bridge Hotel,
Castlegarth, Newcastle

Free Event: Books, good chat, drinks (alcohol & non-alcoholic).

For details and a stall call: 07931 301901.

Local & general history, shipyards, unemployment, Environment, football & other sport, culture, railways, mining, Marxism, social science, economics, Anarchism, international relations, socialism, trade unions and more, stalls from various groups.

To be followed the next day on Sunday 6th November by the Northern Anarchist Network meeting starting at 12 noon until 4 p.m.

Saturday, 29 October 2011

Northern Anarchist Network: Newcastle, November 2011: a note from Martin

How can we best contribute to the growing interest in anarchist thought and action? It would be good to see that we are being listened-to in our localities, due to actions following such attention. This is not a criticism asking “what is the NAN for?” or a plea for vanguardism (like saying “we are the only syndicalists/anarchists).

I live in a fairly isolated place and very much appreciate company. Some present to-day also rarely see a friendly anarchist face. NAN has never been a “talking shop” as much as I love them. The breadth of discussion material we have covered over the years has been impressive. I am only hoping for a bit more active participation, to convey our messages, maybe find some new comrades to help our very basic organisation. Also to give some sense of our co-ordinated thought and continuity of decision making. As a bare minimum we need some agreed number of people running the blog in regular contact (of some form) with each other, like an editorial board.

What organizational examples can we take from the Anarchist Federation (AF)? Over the years they have increased their active participation on a very wide front. Some of our attenders claim that they are neo-Marxists whom fetishise the working class, ignoring their authoritarianism, the vast gradations in material possessions; and strong identification with the middle class rather than less fortunate people. I do not suggest that we become a floating AF, SF, change our name to The Bamford Column or The Gas Light and Coke Company.

But there are now millions suffering roughly the same economic conditions. This suggests a potential for isolated (if highly significant) actions. For example the destruction of Police property in August this year is a long way from building a mass resistance movement. Such actions, however admirable are “the menu not the meal”, only a starting point. Possibly, that furious energy will burn itself out in the daily slog of community and work place struggles. What are such activists going to do for an encore, in what ways should we help out??

Seeing our Network with its breadth of values and visions (in spite of personality clashes) might be a contribution to those who are new to our thoughts and actions.

Martin S. Gilbert

Friday, 28 October 2011

Wednesday's building site disputes across the country

AT least 5 van loads of workers and many deliveries refused to cross picket lines at the Balfour Beatty Carrington Paper Mill site in Manchester on Wednesday this week.

Protests also took place in Liverpool, Govan and Newcastle.

In London, sparks protested outside Balfour Beatty Blackfriars Station site before blocking roads through the centre of The City and arriving at Cannon Street and invading the Gratte Brothers site, where they unfurled a banner proclaiming 'ALL POWER TO THE SPARKS'.

When it was pointed out to the Site Agent that pay rates were being cut from £16 to £10 an hour, he replied 'I'd put the scumbags on £1 an hour if it was up to me.' So guess where the demo's going to be next Wednesday at 7am?

Police have informed the union that if the London action continues, they will issue Section 14 Notices under the Public Order Act - which would effectively make any gathering illegal and allow for pickets to be arrested if they continued to protest after the Notice has been served.

There was a journalist and a photographer from the London Evening Standard at the protest on Wednesday morning - but not a single word in the paper. Nine weeks since it started, there is a complete mainstream media black-out on this story - wonder why?

ALL OUT on Wed 9th NOV. Construction Industry National Day of Action - LONDON,
7am Pinnacle (near Liverpool Street).

We already have reports of 200 workers from 1 construction project voting to walk-out that day, with coaches already booked. We are expecting thousands.

How knee-jerk politicians got riots wrong!

OFFICIAL statistics now suggest that leading politicians were wrong in their initial attempt to blame gangland culture for the August riots. Of those arrested only one in eight were gang members and even where police identified that gang members were present, most forces now believe that they did not play a 'pivotal role'. Further, it has been argued on Radio Four's program 'More or Less' that the arrest statistics could themselves be biased and not give an accurate indication of the typical participants in the riots, because police methods of arrest by their nature tend to target people with previous convictions and prioritise gang members.

Outside London, the majority of police forces identified fewer than 10% of all those arrested as being gang members. Even in London the vast majority of those arrested at 81% were not identified as being members of gangs. This week's latest report by the Home Office and Ministry of Justice stresses the poor educational and socio-economic background of those arrested in the riots and states: 'It is clear that compared to the population averages, those brought before the courts were more likely to be in receipt of free school meals or benefits, were more likely to have had special educational needs and be absent from school, and are more likely to have some form of criminal history.'

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Yesterday's North East demo by the Unite union at Ashington School

SIXTY people started the demonstration well before dawn. The site is off a main road and to get to it you have to go down a fairly narrow pathway just wide enough for traffic in one direction. The site is Kier, and Balfours is the electrical contractor. At the start the site manager was very unhappy at us demonstrating on private land that we did not have permission to be on. He complained that we were causing a traffic jam on the main road outside the site. Nevertheless we stayed our ground to put our case to those going into work. Twenty electricians walked off from the site.

Then the police arrived but were fine especially when we had a talk with them about their terms and conditions being undermined especially by the employment of special constables who did the work on a voluntary basis. These police seemed to understand though they did not say so that they were facing the same attacks as every other private and public sector employee. After an hour or so senior national mangers of Kier and Balfours arrived. These people were not happy at being stopped by and then forced to drive through a very noisy demonstration but by the time they got onto the pathway into the site they couldn't turn round. After a while we saw them skulking around the site not looking too happy. We all considered this was a very good demonstration especially as it was in a fairly isolated place, it buoyed people up quite a lot.

Although we have still not seen ANY full time official from Unite at ANY of our demonstrations, we will continue to invite them at our next demonstration planned for the very future. So we live in hope that we might see a North East full time official Unite. Does anyone know why the North East regional office of Unite appear to refuse to its members any help, support or encouragement?

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Northern Anarchist Network Newcastle Conference, November 2011

The next NAN takes place on Sunday 6th November 2011 at the The Bridge Hotel, Castle Square, Newcastle Upon Tyne, Tyne and Wear, NE1 1RQ. Click here for a Google Map.


12.00 noon: Jimmy Warne, President of the Newcastle Central Branch of Unite, will address the meeting on the blacklist in the construction industry, the development of a rank & file movement & the recent attack on wages and conditions of trade unionists and other workers by several main stream construction companies. Invited Chair: Dave Douglass.

1.30 pm: Dave Douglass to speak on subject of his choice. Invited Chair: Ray Smith.

2.30pm until 3.00 pm: Refreshment Break.

3.00 pm until 4.00 pm: Speaker from 'British-Libyan Solidarity Campaign' on the 'Arab Spring' and the involvement of elements the British political class, such as Tony Blair MP, in the perpetuation of the Gadaffi regime. Chair: Barry Woodling.

Venue for NAN:
You need to head for Nicholas Street, you will see it leads on to an unmarked bridge, which is the High Level Bridge, the Bridge Hotel stands on the north side of the river tyne, directly under the Keep (The Castle, as in Newcastle) is perhaps the most famous landmark in Tyneside.

Monday, 17 October 2011

Hartlepool Unite Union Meeting with the notorious union boss Bernard McAuley

THE meeting on 10th October 2011, was hosted by Hartlepool Construction branch. It was chaired by Tom Geach the chair of the Hartlepool branch. With visitors and supporters there were about 70 there. Bernard McAuley gave a pretty factual account of the situation that most people probably knew. He listed the main changes that the employers were seeking to impose:

1/ cut wages by at least 25%

2/ working day to be determined by the employer.

3/ employers want NVQ Level 2 rates of pay. All trades would be at this grade after 2 years

4/ employers to offer training by the company BEST.

5/ employers to decide who gets NVQ qualifications.

6/ the employer to decide what trade you would be employed as.

7/ employers want lists of union members.

8/ employers to decide if you get travelling and lodgings allowance.

9/ employers to be allowed to lay off people and put workers on short-time working.

Pre-empting questions about a ballot for strike action Bernard McAuley said this was difficult to organise because he had to obtain an up to date list of members and this was very difficult but by Tuesday of next week (18th October) at the latest he would be in a position to let people know what was happening. There was to be a shop stewards meeting in London. We can't he said allow just anybody in. To obtain credentials to attend people had to apply to their regional officials or regional secretary. Bernard McAuley also said:

1. agencies would be instructed by employers to recruit 'electrical improvers'. These were trades at the lowest possible rate because this would be the rate that employers would quote for contracts.

2. people should work together by addressing problems on a site by site basis as individuals.

3. a good tactic was to work to rule.

4. the only time results have occurred was following unofficial action.

5. the union had organised the demonstration in Oxford Street.

Bernard McAuley spoke for about an hour in complete silence. He then sat down to a stony silence. Not a single person said a single word until the chair called for questions and contributions from the floor. The main demand was for a national ballot NOW for all out strike action. The next demand was for unofficial strike action and picketing of all sites. Many times Bernard McAuley told us that the first was difficult to organise and the second was impossible because of anti trade union legislation. Several people said the union never placed any real pressure on the Labour government to repel these laws. Bernard McAuley also said following calls by Siteworker to email him he had received at least a thousand emails calling for a national ballot. He had or would reply to every single one. Bernard McAuley was also informed that Bill Green had said the advice of the union NOT to sign the new agreement but if people refused and were sacked the union would be unable to help. Bernard McAuley said nothing. Mention was made of the email sent in Bernard McAuley's name regarding a 'cancerous cell'. The intention of this said Bernard McAuley was in the context that everybody had to work together for the common good. It had rattled cages he said but he had also been hauled over the coals for it by McCluskey.

There was a lot of frustration in this meeting. People it seemed had attended expecting Bernard McAuley and the union generally to offer real solutions to the problems posed by the employers onslaught but there was nothing of any real substance except the union has your best interests at heart and calls to recruit to the union. There were calls for a committee like the one on Tyneside to coordinate and plan actions but this was left to be decided on another day. However after the meeting there was an unofficial meeting of a group to possibly organise unofficial actions.

Sparks Protest This Wednesday: The Big One!

7:00am Wed 19th October
Balfour Beatty
Blackfriars Station construction project

Balfour Beatty are the driving force behind the proposed 35% pay cut and de-skilling of electricians by the rogue employers withdrawing from the JIB National agreement.

Balfour Beatty have issued Termination Notices to 1700 workers telling them that their contracts of employment will end on 7th December.

Balfour Beatty are offering new contracts at £10 p/h (compared to the current £16.25 p/h) - anyone refusing to sign the new contract will be sacked.

Balfour Beatty are one of the worst anti-union blacklisting firms in the construction industry - 6 companies within the Balfour Beatty group were issued Prohibition Notices by the ICO for their role in the illegal Consulting Association blacklist used against union reps.


We intend to shut this building site by sheer force of numbers if need be

Saltley Gate

If you only turn up to one protest during this dispute - make it this one - spread the word

For more info contact Alan keys at:

Action from the London demos at Oxford Street and Tate Modern, plus the walk out at Radcliffe-on-Soar power station (see above video)

For previous films on the campaign, and many others, visit the Reel News YouTube channel

14th Manchester Food & Drink Festival

Fake food & Oriental Slops!

IT'S not a patch on Ludlow, I can tell you! I got home, last night, from the 14th Annual Manchester Food & Drink Festival hungry for local indigenous food and parched with thirst. The long term criticism that all Manchester offers is a cosmopolitan cuisine of Chinese, Indian cooking, and other oriental delights, seems to me to be born out judging from what I saw yesterday in Albert Square and St. Anns Square. The coming November issue of Northern Voices 13, out shortly, will tackle the lack of local inspiration in what Manchester seems to be offering the public in terms of ingredients and regional cooking. We're being short-changed by a Manchester Council that is renting out stalls to all sorts of incomers of dubious calibre. They should never have let the police kicked the anti-capitalist protestors out of Albert Square to let these vendors of mediocre produce and merchandice in.

It will have a review of the 'Six o' the Best Northern Theatres' by Chris Draper, as well as an analysis of the Manchester Food & Drink Festival.
Northern Voices 13 is priced £2.20 [post & package included] or £4.20 for the next two issues cheques payable to 'Northern Voices' from:
c/o 52, Todmorden Road,Burnley,Lancashire. BB10 4AH.
Tel.: 0161 793 5122.

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

The Porcupine & The Hedgehog

I’ve just finished reading a biography of the eighteenth-century author, pamphleteer, farmer and Tory-turned-Radical, William Cobbett, who once buggered off to North America after a failed attempt to expose corruption in the British army - writing many a scathing article about the fledgling USA under the pseudonym of Peter Porcupine.

It was a very interesting read but I couldn’t help but be distracted by the fact that the more I read about Cobbett, the more he reminded me of someone. What’s more, the various descriptions of his pet publishing project The Political Register seemed equally appropriate to a more contemporary publication not a million miles from this blog - Cobbett’s single-minded passion for his own editorial voice, the constant threat of libel actions hanging over the paper (not helped by Cobbett’s inability to treat any information he was passed either in confidence or, necessarily, with absolute accuracy) and, of course, the bloody relentless use of erroneous italics.

For all his faults (shifting between political extremes, ludicrous patriotism, casual sexism and an ego the size of the monumental farming experiments that eventually bankrupted him), there are things to admire about Cobbett’s vigour - The Political Register became the most read periodical amongst the working classes, whilst its editor managed to get himself charged with both treasonous libel and sedition, serving two years in Newgate for the former. If you can’t bring yourself to admire him you can at least apply the J Edgar Hoover approach to him that you’d rather have had him inside your tent pissing out than outside pissing in.

Our own Cobbett-esque character is coming under increasing criticism for many of the peccadillos that have seen the original airbrushed from history in favour of far less interesting and certainly far less challenging ‘social commentators’ and I would like to have accompanied this with something in the style of Gilray’s merciless cartoon satires on Cobbett but I don’t have the artistic prowess.

Instead I’ve used another image to represent our ‘Peter Porcupine’, which, in the appropriate vernacular (and, of course, italics) might bear the caption ’Umble ’Edge’og. The problem is, this poor creature seems to have had its erinaceous fingers burned and I hope this doesn’t happen to anyone it might represent. Or, more to the point, that inflammatory rhetoric doesn’t burn those it carelessly quotes and/or criticises - we’ve got enough problems with the Mark Kennedys and ‘Officer As’ of this world, without getting dropped in it by ‘one of our own’.

In the Bowels of a Base Book Reviewer

The gestation period for Northern Voices 13!

Twas in high Summer, or perhaps it was during a Midsummer Night's Dream, that I gave a review copy of David Goodway's 'The Seed Beneath the Snow' - a book on the development of 'libertarian ideas in England: from William Morris to Colin Ward', to a book reviewer for Northern Voices. As Winter and the Northern Voices 13 deadline now approaches, and even snow is forecast in the Highlands the review is nowhere to be seen. Indeed, the whereabouts of the review is as much a mystery as the original seed in Ignazio Silone's novel 'The Seed Beneath the Snow' the title which Dave Goodway sought to steal: readers will know that in that novel the seed was hidden by peasants from the police by feeding it into the bowels of a mule. One can only assume given the creative constipation of our present N.V. reviewer that something has got stuck in his bowels and when challenged he tells us that he doesn't get paid to produce reviews to deadlines by Northern Voices.

In the Summer of 1946, George Orwell in the Partisan Review, published his essay 'Confessions of a Book Reviewer': 'In a cold but stuffy bed-sitting room littered with ... half-empty cups of tea, a man in a moth-eaten dressing-gown sits at a rickety table, trying to find room for his typewriter among the piles of dusty papers that surround it. He cannot throw the papers away because the wastepaper basket is overflowing, and besides, somewhere among the answered letters and unpaid bills it is possible that there is a cheque for two guineas which he is nearly certain he forgot to pay into the bank. There are also letters with addresses which ought to be entered into his address book, and the thought of looking for it, or indeed looking for anything, afflicts him with acute suicidal impulses ... If things are normal with him he will be suffering from malnutrition, but if he has recently had a lucky streak he will be suffering from a hangover.'

As an example of the book reviewer's lot, George Orwell talks of a book reviewer receiving four books in the post for reviewing in six days flat, and he writes: 'Three of these books deal with subjects of which he is so ignorant that he will have to read at least fifty pages if he is to avoid making some howler ...' It seems that the only way for an editor to get reviews done efficiently and on time is to employ a team of hacks who can knock out prose to order. Orwell favours writing long reviews and having amateurs to review novels while professional reviewers could deal with more technical books. The miscreant reviewer for Northern Voices is probably writing a detail analysis of 'The Seed Beneath the Snow: From William Morris to Colin Ward a history of libertarian ideas'; though the gestation period of this particular review is seemingly endless. Orwell thinks that the honest reaction of most reviewers to most books ought to be: 'This book does not interest me in any way, and I would not write about it unless I was paid to.' Orwell makes some practical recommendations for a sensible approach to reviewing books: such as longer reviews with a 1,000 words minimum, he writes: '600 words is bound to be worthless even if the reviewer wants to write it'.

THE NEXT ISSUE OF NORTHERN VOICES - N.V.13 - IS OUT IN NOVEMBER. IT WILL HAVE COMMENT ON THE RIOTS IN THE NORTH, AND COVER THE PROBLEMS OF TAMESIDE COUNCIL, BLACKLISTING, IT WILL HAVE EXTENSIVE ARTS COVERAGE AS WELL, but it may well lack the said review of David Goodway's critique of libertarian ideas in England. Northern Voices 13 is priced £2.20 [post & package included] or £4.20 for the next two issues cheque payable to 'Northern Voices' from: c/o 52, Todmorden Road,Burnley,Lancashire. BB10 4AH.
Tel.: 0161 793 5122.

Thursday, 6 October 2011

Manchester Chief Constable denies trying to 'airbrush' riots

REPORTS today that the crime statistics are ignoring the riots were denied by Peter Fahy, Chief Constable of Greater Manchester, who said: 'It is plain silly to try to assess the impact of the riots in terms of the number of individual crimes committed'. In Manchester's St. Anns Square for example, where some of the worst violence took place, the site shows the lowest level of crime for four months, with just 21 incidents. In Manchester city centre as a wholem a rise was recorded in August, but the figure of 1,828 street-level offences was just 10 above April and 12 more than February, the shortest month. Mr Fahy said his force recorded 242 crimes in the city centre and 139 in Salford linked to the riots. Today's The Independent has a cartoon with a copper saying: 'Someone stole the crime figures.'


Northern Voices 13 is priced £2.20 [post & package included] or £4.20 for the next two issues cheque payable to 'Northern Voices' from:
c/o 52, Todmorden Road,Burnley,Lancashire. BB10 4AH.
Tel.: 0161 793 5122.

Concern over council deal with Carillion. Articles from the Tameside Reporter!

Unofficial Strike at Billingham

ATTEMPTS were under way today to bring an end to an unofficial strike which has seen dozens of workers protest outside an industrial site. It is thought the Unite union was due to meet with representatives of a group demonstrating outside Lucite in Billingham, near Stockton-on-Tees. Crowds of around 100 people have been reported at the company’s entrance in recent days in an action which has delayed planned maintenance work. The protest comes after 14 scaffolders and labourers were escorted from the chemical company’s site - triggering a disagreement which saw other workers join the dispute. A source at Hertel, which employs the workers at the Lucite site, said the 'unofficial strike action' had been going on for several days and involved the 'unlawful secondary picketing' of the premises. He claimed many of the demonstrators had no direct connection with the work in question, adding the firm had written to its employees to 'counter false allegations that the dispute is in any way linked to pay or that the men were forcibly removed from the site.'

The source said Hertel had ended a temporary scaffolding contract last week due to a reduction in the planned scope of scaffolding work required at the Cassel Works site. The decision meant that around 14 scaffolders out of a total of workforce of around 160 contractors employed by the company were given a week’s pay in lieu of notice. The company says that is in line with the agreed terms of the temporary contracts. But the workers claim their action comes after they were laid off following a pay review request. Advanced scaffolder Tony Seaman last night told the Gazette he had taken a letter of grievance to management last Wednesday. He said workers were asking for Hertel to set up a meeting with union officials regarding payments for a planned shutdown. The 41-year-old, of Ormesby, claimed workers got £10.46 a hour and wanted £14. They say that is in accordance with NAECI (blue book) rates, but Hertel has said Lucite is not part of that agreement. 'We believe they don’t want to pay the correct rate for the shutdown and for the new build which is going on', Mr Seaman added. 'I can’t describe how we feel.'

Read More Mr Seaman said other workers then joined the action. He added: 'The rest of the site had a meeting on Thursday and came out.' Mr Seaman last night said: 'I would say there are between 100 and 150 out on unofficial strike.' He added his belief the shutdown would not go ahead unless the current situation was resolved. Scaffolder John Beadnall, 52, from Middlesbrough, said at the site’s entrance today: 'I believe management have handled this terribly. It’s grossly unfair.' And Jamie Rowland, 26, a scaffolder from Easterside, added: 'They ought to hold talks immediately.' A Hertel spokesman said the situation all of the 14 were employed as temporary scaffolders and labourers.

'The process was managed in accordance with standard procedures with appropriate notice issued to each of the affected employees,' he added. This is not the right way to resolve a grievance. 'We hope that when people realise that the dispute does not have the backing of the union and that the planned maintenance activity will now be delayed meaning further loss of income for many, those involved will return to work.' The Gazette has seen a copy of a letter from Len McCluskey, general secretary of Unite, to members stating the union will give no support to the unofficial action. 'If you fail to work normally you will be taking part in unofficial action,' he warns. It is believed that the spokesmen for the parties involved in the dispute were due to meet at time of going to press.

Wednesday, 5 October 2011



More on the politics of anxiety: 'I kept a strong grip on myself, but the anxiety showed': Tony Blair in his autobiography 'A JOURNEY' (see pages 64 to 65).

IT set me wondering, I couldn't help myself, when I read these words which way Tony's prick tends to tilt when it is properly upstanding to the mean? For it is a well know biological fact the most men's pricks tilt away at an angle from the perpendicular when seen from above; does Tony's tend to swing to the left or to the right? Does Cherie care one way or t'other? I wonder should all respectable English women only give themselves to left-leaning pricks?

And yet, what we had on the night of the 12th, May 1994, was a scene of virtual exhibitionism in the Blair household in Richmond Crescent: for 'even with the heavy curtains pulled, there was a sudden, disconcerting, but also - at that time - somewhat exciting feeling of being on show.' John Smith, the then leader of Labour Party, had just died and his job was up for grabs; the media scrum was 'ten feet or so from our (Tony & Cherie's) bedroom window and Tony writes that 'It was a strange sensation.' It is recorded that Lloyd George had it off with his Mistress while the corpse of his recently dead wife was in the next room.

After John Smith's death, Blair tells us: 'Cherie was an incredible strength during those months (that followed).' Blair writes: '... she cradled me in her arms and soothed me; told me what I needed to be told; strengthened me; made me that what I was about to do was right.' And on the 12th, May 1994, he says: 'I needed that love Cherie gave me ... I devoured it to give me strength, I was an animal following my instinct, knowing I would need every once of emotional power and resilience to cope with what lay ahead (to fuck Gordon Brown for the leadership of the Labour Party) ... I was exhilarated, afraid and determined ...'

On 'Mock the Week', last night on the 'Dave Channel' a comedian reading this stuff joked that on this occasion 'it took Tony Blair 25 minutes to find his weapon of Mass Destruction'. Tony Blair wrote that he didn't want to fight Gordon Brown in the leadership contest because 'such a fight required us to differentiate, and inevitably he would pitch to the left ...' Perhaps, after all, Tony's member pitches' to the right.

Occupy Manchester

The Occupy Manchester protest is continuing and is now in day four. There was a general assembly on Sunday of 200 people which I addressed. I reported back on my visit to Heraklion, Crete where there was a big demo in Eletheria Plateia (Freedom Square) organised by Aganaktismenoi Heraklion. (The Indignant ones, Heraklion). The social movement in Greece against the IMF and Papandreou's PASOK Government is on an enormous scale, with protests , occupations and strikes taking place on a regular basis.

Occupy Manchester now has a permanent base in the Peace Gardens, St Peters Square, together with a token presence on Albert Square due to the start of the market including Harvey Nicks.

The occupiers need all the support they can get from Manchester activists: donations of food, bedding etc would be gratefully received. Spread the word. Everyone welcome to join in and support the protest. Lets follow in the footsteps of Occupy Wall Street and Los Indignatos in Spain and Syntagma Square in Athens.

This mornings demos by British sparks

PROTESTS by angry electricians spread across the country as the fierce dispute against a new wage agreement entered its sixth week.

This morning protests were staged at building jobs being run by M&E firms Tommy Clarke, Shepherd and Balfour Beatty Engineering Services.

Several hundred electricians, members of the country’s largest trade union Unite, staged a protest at the big Park House shopping centre job on London’s Oxford Street.

The protest went ahead despite attempts by Scotland Yard to call it off after complaints from neighbouring stores, and resulted in a strong police presence.

Park House was targeted as its major M&E package contractor, Tommy Clarke, is one of eight rogue breakaway building services firms seeking to impose a new working rule agreement called BESNA.

In Liverpool, up to 100 workers were reported to be planning protests this morning outside the big central library site where Shepherd Engineering is working.

In Scotland electricians protested outside Balfour Beatty Engineering Services’ job at Cambuslang fire station in Lanarkshire.

In Manchester, 30 electricians picketed outside the Town Hall/ Library site as the Tory Party Conference continued across the road, protesting against the electrical contractor N.G. Baileys: formerly a subscriber to The Consulting Association's 'blacklist services'. The police were called (presumably by the main contractor on the site) with a complaint that the pickets were 'flyposting' but, after some consultation, the police allowed the protest to continue.

Unions claim moves to combine five existing working rule agreements into a single deal will erode wages and conditions, by introducing a semi-skilled rate for installers.

This new installer grade will be below a fully qualified electrician pay rate.

The rate of pay for electricians would fall from £16.25 p/h to £10 p/h

Eddie Current (sparks rank & file spokesperson) said to the protest in Oxford Street:
'This dispute is not about Polish or Portuguese workers. It is about money grabbing multi-national building firms, trying to drive up their profits by driving down our wages. If they think we're just going to just meekly accept a 35% pay cut and de-skilling of our industry - they can think again.'

Tuesday, 4 October 2011


Blacklist Support Group AGM
Sat 29th October
11am til 3pm

Nunn Hall at Institute of Education

Blacklisted construction workers will be joined by MPs, MEPs, barristers, academics, trade unionists and human rights activists to discuss the ongoing campaign for justice for workers caught up in the Consulting Association blacklisting scandal.

Premier of new film by Reel News about the campaign against the blacklist

Discussion about:

Legal Challenges
  • EU & UK parliament
  • Ongoing blacklisting at Olympics & other major projects
  • Union Organising
  • Media
  • Academic Research
  • Future campaigning
More details will follow once invited speakers have confirmed but please put this in your diary and spread the word to your contacts and other blacklisted workers who may not be on our email list.

Blacklist Support Group
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