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31 May 2019

Construction workers protest in defence of union rights and against anti-worker EU

Keith Gibson and Janet Gibson, Hull Socialist Party

70 steel construction workers from Humberside and Yorkshire gathered outside Siemans' Turbine Factory, in Waterside, Lincoln on 28 June, to protest in defence of their trade union-agreed 'national agreement for the engineering construction industry' (NAECI).

Siemans will be the major contractor responsible for overseeing the subcontractor companies who will build the new 'combined-cycle gas turbine' at Keadby power station near Scunthorpe. The Keadby project will be a NAECI site, so why the protest?

The Lindsey oil refinery strikes in 2009 (see 'When militant action stopped the race to the bottom' at successfully placed overseas steel construction workers under the protection of NAECI which guarantees national pay rates, terms and conditions.

The Lindsey strike also secured a new section of NAECI enforcing a 'contractual' right to equal opportunities.

Yet ten years on, these workers are still having to monitor, protest or strike against construction companies who utilise the EU's 'posted workers' directive' under the guise of 'freedom of movement' to employ overseas workers on the cheap.

This in turn has seen construction bosses breach the equal opportunity rights of UK construction workers. Little wonder the majority of steel construction workers understand the need to leave the EU bosses' club!

I addressed the protest, as a member of the Socialist Party and GMB union, voicing construction workers' anger at breaches in equal opportunities, against blacklisting, the circumventing of NAECI and the need for democratic accountability of trade union officials.

I proposed that the next step should be to lobby parliament in defence of NAECI against the EU's posted workers' directive. This was put to the vote and overwhelmingly passed.

I outlined the need for a workers' socialist Brexit and explained the need for international worker solidarity against construction companies attempting to override NAECI and workers' rights.

NSSN conference 2019

All welcome: Saturday 6 July, 11am - 4.30pm
Conway Hall, 25 Red Lion Square, London WC1R 4RL

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