200 construction workers protested at the Stratford Westfield shopping centre on Wednesday 31 August as part of an ongoing campaign against the proposal by 8 major construction contractors to rip up the national agreement and leave the Joint Industry Board (JIB) in March 2012. All 8 companies are accused of blacklisting union activists; their plans are nothing short of an attempt to union-bust on a grand scale in the construction industry.
Rank-and-file platform 'Site Worker' writes: “The employers propose 3 new grades for electricians: metalworker £10.50 per hour, Wiring £12 [and] Terminating £14. The current electricians JIB rate is £16.25 per hour across the board. For the worst hit, this amounts to a 35% pay cut. Meanwhile, the chief executive of Balfour Beatty, one of the contractors, had given himself an 8% pay rise last year.”
The Statford protest follows a similar action by electrical workers at Blackfriars station on Wednesday 24 August, and a further demonstration at The Shard, London Bridge, is planned for Wednesday 7 September. The campaign was launched at a meeting of 500 construction workers in Conway Hall on 13 August.
Rank-and-file platforms such as 'Site Worker' and electricians' group 'Sparks' have been integral to building the actions, and many workers are frustrated by the conservatism and sluggishness of their unions' responses.