Industrial news in brief

Submitted by Matthew on 19 September, 2012 - 11:25

Workers involved in a long-running battle with contractor Carillion at Swindon’s Great Western Hospital (operated under a Private Finance Initiative) took the fight to Portsmouth’s Queen Alexandra Hospital (QAH) on Tuesday 18 September.

Carillion managers at QAH have been accused of the same bullying and harassment practises against which the Swindon workers have taken 21 days of strike action. One Carillion manager from Swindon also works one day a week at QAH.

GMB Regional Secretary Paul Moloney said: “We are not anywhere near resolving this dispute at Swindon. The company has yet to meet GMB to resolve the dispute. However trade unions know that standing up to bullies works. That is the message that we want to share with Carillion’s staff at the Portsmouth hospital.

“We know that Carillion’s own investigation, forced on it by GMB members taking strike action, found that there was evidence of shakedowns and corruptions by their managers in Swindon.

“Carillion has failed to deal with managers who covered this up for years.”

Carillion are also implicated in the blacklisting of construction workers, with evidence suggesting that they blacklisted over 200 workers over a period of four years.

The GMB is calling for the public sector contracts it holds, including through PFI schemes such as the one at Great Western Hospital, to be withdrawn and for the work to be taken back in-house.

Ferry workers vote to strike

Workers on the state-owned Caledonian MacBrayne (CalMac) ferry services have voted to strike, after the Scottish government failed to give them assurances that their terms and conditions would be protected in the event of services being put out to tender.

First Minister Alex Salmond said that the tendering was necessary to protect the services’ future, but has given the workers’ union, the RMT, a commitment that CalMac services would not be “unbundled”.

A union statement said: “[We are] still waiting for further confirmation on the pensions and workplace rights issues at the heart of the on-going dispute.”

The workers voted by 89% to strike.

Sparks hold mass picket

Activists have been staging daily mass pickets at a Crossrail construction site in West London, following the dismissal of 28 electricians from the site.

The workers lost their jobs when their employer, EIS, had its contract at the site terminated by Bam Ferrovial Kier (BFK), the consortium responsible for building Crossrail tunnels. It is widely suspected that BFK took EIS off the job because its workers — including Unite reps Rodney Valentine and Frank Morris — raised concerns about health and safety conditions in the tunnels. Crossrail deny the allegation, claiming that EIS’s contract was terminated because its work was completed early. But Rodney and Frank were removed or banned from the site before the termination of the contract (in Rodney’s case, immediately after his election as health and safety rep).

The Unite union has been demanding direct employment on Crossrail sites, under a national, collectively-bargained agreement, since 2011. The sub-contracting now ubiquitous in the construction industry makes it much easier for bosses to get rid of workers and shift the blame to some other link in the contracting chain. These sackings also take place against the backdrop of ongoing union campaigns against blacklisting, and construction worker activists argue that the dismissal of the EIS electricians are further evidence of systematic victimisation of union reps in the industry.

Workers called emergency pickets of the site following the dismissals, and succeeded in blockading roads into the site.

More info here.

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