Solidarity works: Wembley workers win back jobs

Submitted by Daniel_Randall on 22 September, 2004 - 12:00

TWO HUNDRED and forty steel construction workers on the Wembley Stadium project who walked off the job after their new bosses — Hollandia-Fast Track — unilaterally imposed new attendance arrangements — have won their dispute.

Many of the workers — organised by the GMB and Amicus — were from the north east and needed time off at weekends to go home. That was allowed until the Dutch company Hollandia took over the contract at Wembley.

As one worker put it: “All we wanted was the same that we had. We’re lodging here and we wanted to be able to go home every weekend and see our families. We weren’t being unreasonable – all we wanted to do is work.”

The workers were told about the changes in the most high-handed way. “There was just a notice on the clock” said Tony Connor, spokesperson for the Wembley workers. “They were expected the overtime they were scheduling to be compulsory.”

Unfortunately the Amicus rep sided with management, so the workers had to take the situation into their own hands and take unofficial action. Hollandia sacked them.

Amicus repudiated the walkout and picket, but the GMB backed the workers. Agency workers were bused in, but no-one crossed the picket line. Several Dutch workers refused to work and went home when they realised what was happening.

Because of the determination of the workers and the solidarity shown to them, the Wembley construction workers were able to push things in their favour. A mediator was brought in, and the unions made an agreement on a return to work under nationally agreed terms.

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