Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Newcastle Rank & File Conference

LAST Saturday, the rank and file construction workers held their conference in Newcastle.  It was attended by some 80 workers in the British building trade from Scotland, Yorkshire, Liverpool, Manchester and London, as well as Newcastle.  Topics under discussion included 'Umbrella Companies'; the JIB; the blacklist; and the by-election for the position on Unite's National Executive Council, a position left vacant by the surprise resignation of John Sheridan.  Media representatives from Channel Four's Dispatches program were present and conducted interviews after the conference.   

Tameside TUC's book 'Boys on the Blacklist' was promoted and supported by many of the electricians and building workers present.  Concern was expressed by the delegate from Tameside TUC about revelations that Pluto Press, the intended publishers of the forthcoming book about blacklist by the journalist, Phil Chamberlain and the activist Dave Smith, had indicated that they were no longer willing to publish it.  This came as the Tameside TUC delegate to the conference told of a secret e-mail from a senior Unite official to the Unite legal department, in which it was stated that 'Boys on the Blacklist' had 'material in it that had not been approved (by Unite)' and effectively dismissing the book as an 'amatuer effort'.   

We were told well over a month ago by sources close to the Blacklist Support Group that at least one solicitor's letter had been sent to threaten the forthcoming book on blacklisting.   If it turns out that both the employers and some trade senior union officers are trying to hinder publication and distribution of literature about the history of blacklisting in the British building trade it is a sad day for democracy in this country.   

Meanwhile, the Rank & File conference agreed to support the forthcoming strike action in November; to promote a campaign against Laing O'Rourke; and to back Frank Morris for the vacant position on the National Executive Council.

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