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7 April 2021

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Sparks take deskilling protests to Hinkley Point

"They want superheroes with loads of skills, but don't want to give us superhero wages"

Hinkley Point, Somerset

Hinkley Point protest

Hinkley Point protest   (Click to enlarge)

Rank-and-file Unite members protested near Hinkley Point power station on 21 March, as part of the national day of action against deskilling the role of construction electricians.

Hinkley C is one of the largest construction projects in the country and is at the centre of the dispute. It is the site where contractors first tried to bring in a new 'electrical support operative' (ESO) role which would see workers given just a few weeks' training, before doing most of the jobs of skilled electricians, on considerably worse pay.

The companies are now proposing a similar Hinkley support operative role. Workers protested on a nearby roundabout, making sure they were seen by other workers being bussed into the site.

Speaking to the Socialist, one of the workers, who didn't want to be named, said: "There should be no deskilling of the trades at all, it should be apprenticeships. Whatever happens here at Hinkley is going spread to HS2 and every major site across the UK. We can't have these rogue training standards come in and deskill us. We expect apprentices and adult trainees to be at the forefront of this job, and make sure it's proper electricians and mechanical workers that are coming out of this."

Tom Baldwin


Sparks took their protest to Balfour Beatty's offices in Newcastle on 21 March - where they were met by locked doors!

As one of the sparks said: "If these companies get away with this it will take loads of lads' jobs from them and [by using unskilled workers] potentially be dangerous."

He went on to explain: "We all came out of school with the promise of a job for life, but now they're wanting to take on unskilled workers instead."

Another commented about the companies: "They want superheroes with loads of skills, but don't want to give us superhero wages."

The numbers at the protests, which are being held weekly, are beginning to pick up, but one of the electricians commented: "We need to get to the sites - there needs to be a national call."

Elaine Brunskill


Sparks protest in Cardiff, photo Rachel Barwell

Sparks protest in Cardiff, photo Rachel Barwell   (Click to enlarge)

Sparks at an NG Bailey site joined the protest supported by workers from four other unions mobilised by Cardiff Trades Union Council. Each week the protests have grown.

The mood was buoyant and determined as sparks understand that if a stand against ESO is not made then skilled electricians will be forced out of the industry or employed on low rates.

Dave Reid

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In The Socialist 7 April 2021:


Pay NHS staff 15%!

Racism exists! Unite to fight all inequality

Report condones vigil police violence - democratic community control a necessity

Low-paid workers shouldn't pay for Covid crisis

The system is broken... youth unite and fight back

Fighting Fund: An amazing 39,948 raised


Sexism in education: It shouldn't be like this!

Pimlico Academy protests: "Run by racists for profit"

Academy schools have become business ventures


Defiance continues against anti-protest bill

London: #BuhariMustGo protests are back

Local elections

Councillors have a choice - don't vote for cuts

Former Labour parliamentary candidate to stand for TUSC

Workplace news

NEU elections: Elect a socialist leadership to fight for national action and a united campaign

GMB general secretary election: A fighting, socialist leadership needed

Sparks take deskilling protests to Hinkley Point

Marley Tiles workers strike against bullying bosses

New British Gas deadline and strike dates

Bristol Water walkout


Childcare in crisis: A socialist solution


Right-wing Labour and Tory commissioners out of Liverpool!

Brixton riots

1981 Brixton riots: Racism and poverty - the anger explodes

International news

Brazil: Bolsonaro regime plunges into a deeper crisis

Readers' opinion

The Socialist Inbox


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Article dated 7 April 2021

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