Electricians protest against deskilling and lower wages
Link to this page: https://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/1125/32185
From the socialist newspaper of March 17, 2021
Sparks protest in London on March 17th, Photo Isai Priya (click to enlarge)
Following a protest in Swansea on March 3, construction electricians at Unite the Union, supported by the Cardiff Trades Union Council, protested outside the offices of construction company NG Bailey in Cardiff.
They sang “No Deskilling, No ESO!” in the company trying to cut wages and skills on the huge construction site of the Hinkley Point nuclear power plant in Somerset by using ESO grades instead of fully trained electricians.
Andrew Wilks, a Unite construction activist, stated:
“NG Bailey has decided to offer six- to eight-week courses to unskilled workers to learn the basics of electrician work. This containment work makes up 60-70% of the work in the workplace. It will give these ESO workers a lower wage than fully trained electricians .
“NG Bailey and Balfour Beatty are trying to cut their costs and increase their profits at the expense of the electricians. They are trying to find out that there is a shortage of skilled workers, but if they advertised the job they would have a lot of applicants from electricians in the Bristol, Southwest and South Wales area.
“It’s a dead end for anyone who is also involved in work: the six-week course does not lead to further advancement to fully qualified electricians. Instead of these gimmicks, these companies should hire more suitable apprentices to try this.” undercut our wages.
“There is also a risk that the job will be done unsafe, especially if this way of working spreads. The attitude of the bosses is: ‘It’s just a nuclear power plant. What could possibly go wrong?'”
Questions are asked about why the Welsh government allows a company like NG Bailey to build expensive projects for the public sector in Wales. The Welsh Labor government claims to require ethical employment practices from its contractors, but both NG Bailey and Balfour Beatty get profitable contracts with no questions asked. The Welsh government must stop contracting companies that aggressively lower wages and skills.
The “Funken” construction electricians have started a nationwide fight against Deskilling. On March 3rd there were protests in London, Manchester, Swansea and outside of Grangemouth.
The message to electrical contractors like NG Baileys and Balfour Beatty is simple: take the electricity company’s desk off the table or expect more protests, strikes and strikes.
The protest, organized by the Sparks, began with workers protesting at NG Baileys headquarters and then marched to various construction sites – supported by local workers.
Construction workers had high Covid-19 death rates and worked in unsafe locations without adequate PPE. More than 360 construction workers died of coronavirus between March 9 and May 25.
The Socialist Party has called for insecure workplaces to be closed and non-essential jobs to be stopped.
Dave Reid, Cardiff Socialist Party
In the third week of action, the construction electricians put their fight against deskilling on the animal’s stomach.
Workers protested outside Balfour Beatty headquarters in Canary Wharf against the introduction of the ESO class, which would open the door to a large percentage of electrical work done by unskilled labor.
This would be used to destroy electricians ‘pay and conditions and increase bosses’ profits.
The spark campaign has already forced the suspension of the ESO course at the Hinkley Point nuclear power plant site. But the workers are determined that it must be taken off the table entirely.
If Balfour and NG Bailey fail to guarantee this, the fight will be led to construction sites and protests will turn into strikes.
Rob Williams, Hackney Socialist Party
The coronavirus crisis has exposed the class character of society in a variety of ways. Many are realizing that it is the working class that keeps society running, not the CEOs of large corporations.
The results of the austerity measures have been presented graphically as public services are faced with the crisis.
The government has now torn up its austerity mantra and turned to policies that not so long ago were denounced as socialist. But after the corona crisis it will try to make the working class pay for it by trying to reclaim the given.
- The Socialist Party material is more important than ever, so we can continue to report on workers fighting for better health and safety measures, against layoffs, for adequate staffing, and so on.
- When the health crisis has subsided, we must be ready for the stormy events ahead and the need to arm the labor movements with a socialist program that puts the health and needs of humanity before the gains of a few.
During the crisis it was inevitable that we could not sell the socialists and raise money the way we normally would.
We therefore urgently appeal to all of our viewers to donate to our Fighting Fund.
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The socialist March 17, 2021 |
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