Wednesday, 5 October 2011

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.'

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