One year after it was announced that employers in the construction
industry were looking to break workplace agreements and implement savage
cuts in pay and conditions, and one year after the magnificent rank and
file campaign was launched in response, site activists from around the
country met in London to plan the way ahead.
One year after it was announced that employers in the construction industry were looking to break workplace agreements and implement savage cuts in pay and conditions, and one year after the magnificent rank and file campaign was launched in response, site activists from around the country met in London to plan the way ahead.
Following last year’s titanic struggle, where we defeated the “BESNA 8” companies who wanted to push through the cuts, one of the rats has now come out from the dungeon that is Crown House in order to try and give us “BESNA Mark 2.”
Crown House is owned by Laing O’Rourke, another big blacklister and no friend of the workers. They have pulled out of the Joint Industry Board (JIB) agreement although they are still paying the same rate as JIB, for now anyway.
However, the fact that they are no longer in JIB does mean that their workers will lose a number of benefits: health insurance, proper holiday pay, JIB pension, agreed overtime rates, travel and fares expenses and so on. The workers will have no right to make unfair dismissal claims under JIB disciplinary rules and so will need to have worked for them for more than 2 years in order to claim against any unfair dismissal should that occur. Under JIB rules you get that right from day one.
They will also try it on and they don’t now recognise Unite. We say every person is entitled to join a union of their choice and be properly represented at disciplinary and grievance hearings – always remember to never go into any hearing without a union rep alongside you. Crown House are testing the water on behalf of the other major construction employers.
They are smarting from the thrashing they got over their last attempt to push through attacks on our conditions. Had they got away with what the BESNA 8 had planned then every site worker would have faced pay cuts and poorer conditions with little or no workplace rights being left. They were not expecting a fight back from the rank and file, which in turn galvanised the strength of our unions into attack. Our power is greater than the power of the bosses if we use it.
We are planning demos at all Crown House sites in coming weeks – they have a lot of work in London as well as other areas, so let’s get ready and do what we do best.
We did the business last year and the time has come to do it again.
Already Crown House workers have been told; sign the new contracts or you are sacked! Solidarity is now essential. If Crown House wins then the other firms will follow. First your conditions will be attacked then the pay cuts will follow. We say no! Get organised, walk out if you are on a Crown House site and spread the word for solidarity action across the land. Bring every site to a standstill! No return to work until we are successful! United we stand, divided we fall!
We must also fight blacklisting. We still have many of our best activists barred from sites by the bosses. We need to give those blacklisting wretches a taste of their own medicine.
The actions of the blacklisters have meant lost work and poverty for many workers around the country. We have not forgotten them and will stand firmly with our blacklisted comrades in their fight.
BESNA 2 will not succeed if we have anything to do with it. The mood at the rank and file conference was determined and ready to push forward once again.
Look out for a protest near you in the coming weeks.
If you are a construction worker and want to get involved – contact us at