Lindsey Oil Refinery workers' new demands; and Italian unions on the dispute

Submitted by martin on 3 February, 2009 - 3:48
Union placards

These are the demands adopted by the Lindsey Oil Refinery construction strikers at a mass meeting on 2 February:

* No victimisation of workers taking solidarity action.

* All workers in UK to be covered by NAECI Agreement.

* Union controlled registering of unemployed and locally skilled union members, with nominating rights as work becomes available.

* Government and employer investment in proper training/apprenticeships for new generation of construction workers - fight for a future for young people.

* All Immigrant labour to be unionised.

* Trade Union assistance for immigrant workers - including interpreters - and access to Trade Union advice - to promote active integrated Trade Union Members.

* Build links with construction trade unions on the continent.

* Re-instatement of [victimised worker] John McKewan

Queste sono le domande dei lavoratori in sciopero, che sono state stabilite il 2 febbraio dall’assemblea di lavoratori.

- Nessun vittimizzazione dei lavoratori in sciopero di solidarietà

- Che tutti lavoratori nella Gran Bretagna siano coperti dall’Accordo NAECI (accordo nazionale su stipendi e condizioni di lavoro nel settore di costruzione)

- Per la registrazione sotto controllo sindacale di lavoratori specializzati disoccupati nell’area locale, con il diritto di nominarli quando siano creati nuovi lavori.

- Per un investimento dal governo e dagli imprenditori in nuovi apprendistati e corsi di formazione per la nuova generazione di lavoratori nel settore di costruzione – lottare per il futuro dei giovani

- Che tutti i lavoratori immigrati siano iscritti nel sindacato

- Per l’assistenza sindacale per lavoratori immigrati (anche servizi di traduzione) e per il loro accesso ai consigli sindacali – per promuovere l’iscrizione attiva al sindacato

- Per la creazione di legami con i sindacati d’Europa continentale.

Below is the press release on the dispute from CGIL, Italy's biggest union federation. Notably, it says about the Italian sub-contracting firm involved in the dispute, IREM:

"We want to make the point that this is a non-unionised firm. Which says a lot about its approach to industrial relations".

Press release from CGIL, Italy's biggest union federation

Rome, 2 February – “What’s going on in Lincolnshire is one of the ugliest pages in the history of the trade union movement in these globalised times: English workers against Italian workers.” That’s the view of the heads of the European office of FIOM-CGIL (CGIL engineering section), Sabrina Petrucci, and of CGIL’s European secretary, Nicola Nicolosi, commenting on the strikes by English workers against the contract given to the Sicilian firm Irem to build a plant in a north England refinery.

“The current economic crisis,” say the two officials, “caused by a capitalist system devoted to financial speculation, lacking rules, and centred on debt, is producing one of the worst social evils: the poor against the poor, workers against workers.” Furthermore, while the economic crisis has led to the loss of thousands of jobs, for Nicolosi and Petrucci, “the solutions put forward at Davos are exactly the same as those which created the crisis. Even in Europe, unemployment is growing and fear is becoming a social phenomenon. There are cases of racial intolerance in Italy too: odious, unacceptable, to be condemned and fought with maximum energy.”

But the two union leaders also say that we should understand the ill-feeling underlying the events at Lindsey Oil. “We have a duty,” they say “to understand the workers’ unhappiness. The consequences of European judgements on the labour market, on the right to free movement of goods and people, are multiplying, opening the door to social dumping.” In this regard they cite the recent Viking Line and Laval judgements from the European Court “on the pre-eminence of employers’ rights over those of trade unions sanctioned by national contracts and laws, which have aroused justified concern from trade unions, lawyers and workers. In these cases ‘salary dumping’ becomes an opportunity for the firms to cut labour costs and creates unfair competition.”

In the case of the Lindsry refinery, in Lincolnshire, Nicolosi and Petrucci add, “the protest is taking on connotations that the nationalist right-wing is turning against the 'foreigner'. The English workers claim that this contracted work should use the local labour force, already hit by the loss of 500 jobs in December alone. If it’s true that the contract includes a clause excluding local labour, we say that’s wrong and a source of discrimination. The firm, on these questions, has enormous responsibilities. What’s more, we want to make the point that this is a non-unionised firm. Which says a lot about its approach to industrial relations.”

But, at the same time, “the effects of the crisis in globalisation must not slacken the ties of international solidarity between workers, condemning all those events which could lead to xenophobic and racist forms,” say the two union leaders and, furthermore, argue that “European law should not allow social- and wage-dumping, as has happened in the Viking and Laval cases, and the parts of the ‘Distacco’ directive that can be abused to differentiate between workers from different countries must be modified.”

And “that the CES campaign 'equal work, equal pay', against differentials in pay and conditions for the same work in the same country should be developed. To develop the spirit of a Social Europe we need solidarity, a value to which we can link aspirations and prospects for widespread well-being.” Nicolosi and Petrucci conclude, “the economic and financial crisis can’t be fought within national boundaries, even if these English workers are given a response within their national boundary: we need a European and global trade union initiative to support the unemployed and for new social and industrial policies and perspectives.”

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