Monday, 20 February 2012

Balfour Beatty Back Out of Bid to Slash Pay

AFTER construction giant Balfour Beatty lost its bid to block a strike by Unite workers, it pulled out of a scheme involving several building companies to dilute wages through forcing workers to sign a new contract. The union UNITE had been targeting Balfour Beatty with the threat of strike action and a recent ballot had shown a 2-to-1 majority for industrial action against the new contract proposals. Other companies such as Shepherd Engineering, Matthew Hall and N.G. Bailey Building Services are considering their position.

Ray Smith, Secretary of the Newcastle Central Branch of UNITE told the Newcastle Journal, last Saturday, that: 'This is fantastic news ... Balfour Beatty is the biggest company and I think the others will cave in.' Balfour Beatty was one of seven firms accused of seeking to tear up long-standing agreements and impose semi-skilled grades. UNITE has said that the new terms would result in pay cuts of up to 30% and poorer terms and conditions for key construction staff.

A meeting has been called by UNITE's General Secretary, Len McCluskey, for today, but some militants fear that the union bosses may settle for something not much better that the bent deal the building bosses had on offer in the first place. Nationally electricians and other workers by organising a series of weekly actions, have been resisting the controversial contract that the core building companies had been trying to force them to accept.

Now some trade unionists in the North East and North West fear that some dodgy deal will be cooked-up between the union bosses and big building companies. There are some good reasons for concern and distrust among building workers because there has long been stories, backed-up recently by information gathered by the Information Commissioner's Office, that some paid union officers - formerly in Amicus - may have been actively encouraging firms to implement a blacklist against members of of other unions in order to gain advantages for their own members..

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