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8 March 2012
Sparks resolve to continue protests
Up to 150 construction workers met in Conway Hall in London last night to review the incredible victory against the 'Dirty 7' companies and discuss the way forward.
The workers who have come under the common title 'sparks' (but include plumbers and pipe fitters as well as electricians who are all in the JIB national agreement) fought off the bosses' attempts to impose the BESNA contract which could have cut wages by up to 35% (see article: Priceless victory of sparks against the dirty seven)
There was a really confident mood but a real determination that any trace of BESNA must be stamped out.
Workers listened to one of the rank and file organisers, Steve Kelly, outline the agreement with Unite that a meeting of Unite construction stewards and rank and file reps next week would elect a negotiating committee to meet with the employers.
The bosses and Unite have signed a joint statement advocating a 'modernisation' of the JIB but the sparks are determined that this will be a improvement in their pay, terms and conditions not a BESNA mark2.
A list of 17 demands was agreed to take to the union-side meeting as the basis for any talks. It was accepted that the rank and file committees need to stay together as a check on the union officials in these or any future talks.
The workers were adamant that the next issues that have to be dealt with are blacklisting and agency working.
Therefore, next Wednesday the London protests will resume at the Shard site at London Bridge from 6.45am.
Rob Williams, National Shop Stewards Network chair, from the floor offered the Network's continued support.
There are already weekly protests outside Manchester Central Library every Wednesday to call on the Labour council to pressure its main electrical contractor, one of the 'Dirty 7' - NG Baileys, to stop blacklisting.
The meeting also heard from representatives of the Australian ETU electricians union who have been a big supporter of the sparks' struggle, donating A$10,000.
Jerry Hicks also addressed the meeting, along with Mick Dooley, who is appealing against his expulsion from Ucatt by the right-wing leadership. He got a rousing reception from the sparks for his support of the dispute.
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