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16 February 2015
Protest wins reinstatement of Crossrail worker
Rob Williams, National Shop Stewards Network chair
Construction workers were celebrating this morning after a worker on the huge London Crossrail project was reinstated after being sacked on Friday for the crime of raising health and safety issues.
His employer, Costain, tried to argue that he had been laid off because of lack of work, yet he had only been employed four days earlier on a job that has four years left!
These underhand methods are the insecure reality for construction workers and a massive obstacle for trade union members and activists who try to ensure that sites are safe and workers aren't ripped off by the bosses.
To show why union rights are so important for the welfare of workers, there will be a vigil next Monday outside St Pancras coroners court (details below) where there will be an investigation into the death of a Crossrail worker last year.
The sacking came on the very day that blacklisted workers were at the High Court in the long running battle that has exposed how the building companies kept union members out of the industry for years.
Today's protest was organised by rank and file Unite members in the building industry and by 8am had stopped Oxford Street with traffic backed up either side of the Bond Street site.
Soon after, we got word that the sacked worker had been put on full pay with a promise that he will get his job back.
We all left the road but warned that we will be back, with more protesters, if the promise isn't kept.
Today's victory shows that workers can win, providing they and their union are prepared to fight. Many of those workers who gave solidarity today are veterans of the successful struggle against the BESNA contract that the electrical companies wanted to impose in 2011 that would have cut wages by 35%.
The last few years have also seen victimisation fought and won at Crossrail, Ratcliffe, Runcorn and Romford to name but a few sites.
Hopefully this victory will inspire more construction workers to join a union and get the sites organised.
- The inquest into Rene Tkacik's death who was killed on Crossrail is taking place at St Pancras Coroners court, Camley Street, Camden N1C 4PP, on Monday 23rd February. There will be a vigil outside, gathering at 9.15am.
This version of this article was first posted on the Socialist Party website on 16 February 2015 and may vary slightly from the version subsequently printed in The Socialist.
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