Sparks fly at Crossrail

By Bernie McAdam CONSTRUCTION WORKERS at the Crossrail site in Tottenham Court Road took two days of unofficial strike action on 30 November and 1 December to defend Unite steward Terry Wilson. Employers Laing O’Rourke insisted Terry be transferred to another job while refusing to recognise him as a union negotiator. A further protest on 2 December was followed by another walkout on 5 December, with workers agreeing to go back the following day.

This follows a campaign by Unite to win second tier productivity bonuses for electricians at Crossrail and a previous unofficial stoppage at the site on 25 November. Laing O’Rourke is notorious for being involved in an illegal blacklist of building workers and has failed to abide by national agreements, including over bonus payments.

Unite must hold a ballot on industrial action in the New Year. Further action will be necessary to win the bonus dispute and the reinstatement and recognition of victimised stewards. If Unite leaders dilly-dally, then sparks, as the electricians are known, should remember their proud history of massive unofficial strikes and protests in 2011-12, which tore up the proposed BESNA contract that would have meant a 35 per cent drop in pay.

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A progressive patriotism?