The Socialist

The Socialist 9 May 2018

Tories out!

The Socialist issue 994

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Hull Energy Works, photo Paul Harrop, CC

Hull Energy Works, photo Paul Harrop, CC   (Click to enlarge)

Hull Energy Works: Unofficial strike action reinstates victimised workers

Workers at a large 200 million waste to energy plant site in East Hull have taken successful strike action against victimisation by management.
Keith Gibson, a plater on site and a GMB activist, spoke in a personal capacity about the dispute to fellow Socialist Party member Janet Gibson:

On 25 April construction workers, across all trades, walked off Spencer Group's new energy from waste plant, in East Hull, after a catalogue of health and safety incidents.

The final straw came when an underground joint to the pipework gave way, lifting concrete and spraying debris into the air.

The workforce took matters into their own hands and agreed to implement a safety stand down, the nightshift followed suit.

Workforce spokesmen and safety reps pursued the subcontractor company Premier and M+W Group, the main contractor, to investigate the incident.

The following day Unite and GMB union officials arrived. It was agreed that an environmental health officer from Hull city council and a GMB safety official would inspect the site and take up the concerns of the workforce. Construction workers returned to work the following afternoon.

On Friday 27 April the manager of Premier Engineering, my employer, decided to sack the Unite spokesman who had raised the health and safety concerns of the workforce. The manager alleged the spokesperson had a 'bad attitude' and his productivity 'wasn't good enough'.

Smelling victimisation, the whole workforce gathered in the car park. After I addressed them we voted to walk off site for the weekend until Monday. Our demand was clear, the Unite spokesman should be reinstated.

On Monday, Premier's manager took a decision to make all 15 platers, the most vocal group on health and safety concerns, redundant. Premier alleged financial difficulties.

The workers declared a TUPE situation (breaching employment rights) and lack of consultation.

A collective workforce grievance was handed into Premier demanding a written contract of employment. A site meeting was called.

Walkout

I addressed the workforce again and demands for the reinstatement of the Unite spokesman and 15 platers were now the rallying cry. An instant walkout strike was agreed.

Tuesday 1 May saw over 200 workers picket the site gate - scaffolders, electricians and mechanical trades brought the site to a standstill.

Tuesday also saw the beginning of the third series of strikes by workers at FCC Wilmington waste processing plant for equality in sick pay.

Their picket line is situated just across the road. In a show of workers' solidarity the FCC strikers marched over to join the construction workers' picket line. Construction workers then marched to join the FCC picket line!

FCC strikers reading the Hull Socialist strike bulletin, photo by Phil Culshaw

FCC strikers reading the Hull Socialist strike bulletin, photo by Phil Culshaw   (Click to enlarge)

After hastily inquiring as to where the construction workers had gone, M+W management, on our return, offered toilet facilities to construction workers and entered into talks with a Unite official and the spokesmen, including me.

It took 15 minutes to negotiate the reinstatement of the 15 platers. The Unite spokesman was suspended on full pay pending an investigation. Management wanted an immediate return to work. The workforce decided to go home.

We would return on Wednesday, the following morning, with a victory under our belt!


This version of this article was first posted on the Socialist Party website on 8 May 2018 and may vary slightly from the version subsequently printed in The Socialist.


In this issue


Local elections 2018

Local election results are a major warning sign for Labour

The Tusc results

Southampton: Keith Morrell, anti-cuts councillor, re-elected

Haringey councillors need to fight austerity now

TUSC vote up in Waltham Forest but many voters stay away

TUSC stands against Birmingham council's cuts and attacks on workers

Strong TUSC result in Huddersfield


France '68

France '68: History's greatest general strike erupts


Socialist Party news and analysis

US president suggests gun control to blame for London knife deaths

Use TUC march as launch pad for action on pay

Breast cancer screening scandal


Israel/Palestine

Socialists fight for Palestinian liberation and workers' unity

Socialists in Israel-Palestine reject establishment antisemitism charge against Jeremy Corbyn


Obituaries

Roger Shrives, 5 April 1947 - 1 May 2018

Keith Pattenden 28 September 1955 - 1 May 2018

Obituary: Tony Byrne 1939 - 2018


Socialist Party workplace news

Hull Energy Works: Unofficial strike action reinstates victimised workers

Defend Hull FE College - defend our city!

Victory against academisation at Avenue Primary

Firefighters ballot for action

PCS: A fighting strategy to defeat the Tory pay cap


International socialist news and analysis

Teachers revolt in Trump country

China: Impressive, coordinated and daring crane drivers' strikes

CWI news in brief


 

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9 May 2018