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24 February 2021

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Hinkley Point electricians fight 'deskilling'

'All power to the Sparks' - Electrician construction workers: protest at Cannon Street, London 2012, photo Paul Mattsson

'All power to the Sparks' - Electrician construction workers: protest at Cannon Street, London 2012, photo Paul Mattsson   (Click to enlarge)

Rob Williams, National Shop Stewards Network (NSSN) chair

Rank-and-file construction electricians have launched a struggle against what they see as 'multi-skilling' by bosses at the massive Hinkley Point site in Somerset to build a nuclear power station, estimated to cost 22.5 billion.

At an emergency Zoom meeting on 20 February, which saw many workers unable to attend because of a limit on numbers, Unite executive council members Frank Morris and Tony Seaman reported that an agreement to employ about 500 electrical apprentices had been reneged on and, instead, a training course for 'support operatives' is being put on. This would mean lower-paid, unskilled workers being employed instead of skilled electricians.

The meeting, echoing the Unite electrical and mechanical combine committee, is demanding that Unite construction officers say if they knew about this course and called on the national leadership of the union to oppose this move by the bosses and give a lead to the campaign.

But the 'sparks', as the electricians became known when they defeated the Besna contract in 2011-12, a previous attempt to deskill the trade which would have seen pay cuts of up to 35%, have a record of not waiting for the union officials. Then, a six-month struggle of walkouts, stoppages and protests forced the union to back the campaign, leading to an official ballot, which forced the bosses back.

But the employers are back, looking again to make workers' pay to protect and increase their profits. Workers know that any breaking of national agreements at Hinkley Point would be rolled out nationally.

The meeting agreed to launch a national fight, focused on Hinkley Point but ready to take on the construction bosses everywhere. I gave solidarity greetings from the NSSN and reported similar attacks on workers in many sectors, including 'fire and rehire' which has seen workers strike from British Airways to British Gas, and an increasing number of companies.

Solidarity to the sparks!

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In The Socialist 24 February 2021:


Covid

Where's the road map to jobs and wages Boris?

Johnson's 'road map' for schools: Act together to protect safety

Vaccine algorithm can't solve capitalist inequality

Garment workers and Covid: Dying for less than minimum wage


What we think

Starmer's speech a return to New Labour


News

Justice for Moyied Bashir

Uber drivers win case - they are workers

Social care: End privatisation and let workers decide how it's run


Lessons from history

How militant trade unionism defeated the 1971 Industrial Relations Act


Workplace news

Usdaw elections - right makes gains but Broad Left builds

HMRC: Divisive pay deal leads to expulsions

Hinkley Point electricians fight 'deskilling'

"I'm here to fight for the future education of children in Hackney"

London bus dispute against low pay, pay cuts and longer hours

GMB members continue fight against 'fire and rehire' in British Gas

Scunthorpe steelworks scaffolders: Fifth week of action


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Liverpool Unite branch supports 'no cuts' budget strategy

Scottish TUSC election campaign launch

Keep the fighting fund rushing in for a TUSC stand in May


Campaigns news

W. Sussex children's centres on the chopping block

Coventry success building subscriptions

Socialist Students conference - postering

Save John Carroll Leisure Centre

Getting the Socialist out in lockdown


LGBT+ history month

Pride flag is about unity in struggle

Tories tout toilet tensions


International news

Nigeria: Abbey Trotsky on trial for assisting workers' struggle

Facebook v Australian government: nationalise the bosses' media!


Readers' opinion

Film Review: The White Tiger

Tories admit guilt for asylum seeker neglect

Tories target universities in free speech shakedown

The Socialist Inbox


 

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Related links:

Electricians:

triangleSparks' protest in Cardiff; each week the protest has grown. Sparks are protesting nationally against the role of construction electricians being deskilled. Photo by Rachel Barwell

triangleDeskilling protests by sparks electricians continue

triangleSparks continue protests against deskilling

triangleProtests against deskilling and lower wages

triangleConstruction electricians protesting against de-skilling, outside Balfour Beatty, Canary Wharf, London, on 10.3.21. Photo by Isai Priya

Workers:

triangleDefend the right to protest - to resist bosses' attacks

triangleThe Socialist Inbox

triangleSt Mungo's strikers fight on

triangleGo Ahead offers deal to Manchester bus drivers

Unite:

triangleMetroline buses to face summer of strikes unless it drops 'remote sign-on'

triangleUnite general secretary election nomination stage

triangleDevonport tugboat crews strike against rota changes

Union:

triangleFor a fighting, democratic, member-led union to stop the austerity attacks

triangleBeal High School strike against sick policy resumes

Construction:

triangleSparks block Cardiff building site against deskilling

NSSN:

triangleNSSN meeting: NHS workers fighting back

Rob Williams:

triangleTate strike: "Coronavirus - no reason to fire us!"

National Shop Stewards Network:

triangleGoodlord strikers fight fire and rehire as part of day of action

Article dated 24 February 2021

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