Engineering construction: Workers demonstrated outside the Staythorpe power station construction site, in Nottinghamshire, again on Wednesday 11 March. But Unite union officials seem to be quietly encouraging a winding-down of the action.
Most of the workers currently on the site are Spanish workers, reportedly non-union and walled off from access by trade unionists, employed by two Spanish sub-contractors. The demonstrations are for labour for future phases of the contract to be hired locally under the national union agreement for engineering construction.
The numbers on the demonstrations — workers from other engineering construction sites, and unemployed workers — have been dwindling. There were about 100 on 11 March.
The union officials’ focus is on getting better British legislation to implement the EU Posted Workers’ Directive. This is at best a long-term prospect, one which demonstrations at work sites can have little impact on, and one which may well have no serious effect on the problem of subcontracting being used in the industry to undermine the union agreement, union representation, and union strength.
Some activists have been calling for a national demonstration in London on the issues around sub-contracting. A national meeting of shop stewards has however decided against setting a date any time soon for such a march. Union officials say they have two negotiating sessions with the engineering construction employers’ organisation on 11 March and 8 April, and campaign plans should be rediscussed after that.