Sparks fight to maintain rank-and-file control

Submitted by Matthew on 9 November, 2011 - 3:20

Over 1,000 Unite members at Balfour Beatty Engineering Services, the construction industry contractor leading the charge to rip up the collective agreement, could strike on 7 December.

The strike is part of a campaign to defend the Joint Industry Board, the union-negotiated agreement governing pay, terms and conditions for electricians in the construction industry.

Unite’s ballot, forced from the union by months of rank-and-file pressure, closes on 28 November. Many rank-and-file activists are frustrated by how long the union has taken to move; 7 December is the day on which BBES plans to unilaterally impose its new contracts, prompting some to argue that the strike will be too little too late.

In the run-up to the construction workers’ national demonstration on 9 November there was further wrangling over what tactics the campaign should employ. Unite officials wanted the demonstration to conclude in a lobby of parliament, with the sparks’ rank-and-file committee arguing for a more direct-action oriented approach. A rank-and-file campaign newsletter argued: “This dispute will be won by stopping production on the big jobs — not by appealing to the good nature of politicians. If we have got thousands of angry sparks in the middle of the City on 9 November, we should do more than just listen to speeches; we should physically close down the sites: The Pinnacle, The Shard, Blackfriars Station, Crossrail.

“This dispute has been led by the rank and file from the beginning, and we will run it on 9 November as well.”

Add new comment

This website uses cookies, you can find out more and set your preferences here.
By continuing to use this website, you agree to our Privacy Policy and Terms & Conditions.