beaten, now organise to bin the Blacklist!
Around 70 rank and file construction workers met in the
Mechanics Institute, Manchester on Saturday 17th March to
discuss the significant victory against the 'Dirty 7' companies
and to plan the way forward to end the blacklist, agency working
and to stop the bosses war against jobs, pay and conditions.
Speaking from the platform Jerry Hicks and Steve Kelly were
given loud applause for their major role in this victory. Jerry
explained that the Sparks victory against the bosses attempt to
impose BESNA contracts – cutting wages by up to 35% - is an
important step forward and has helped to build confidence among
construction workers that they can fight back and win. (checkout
Priceless victory of sparks against the dirty seven)
But workers at this meeting were also clear that it represents
just one victory against the bosses continued drive to maximise
their profits at the expense of construction workers and there
was a real determination that any trace of BESNA must be stamped
One of the important features of the battle against BESNA is how
its been rank and file construction workers who have led the
struggle from the beginning and put pressure on Unite to
eventually put its weight behind the campaign.
The bosses and Unite have now signed a joint statement
advocating a 'modernisation' of the JIB and of course the bosses
will see this as an opportunity to get through most of what they
were planning in the first place.
But, despite the economic crisis, the sparks and other
construction workers have produced massive profits for BESNA
firms like Balfour Beatty and they rightly want improvements in
their pay, terms and conditions not workplace 'austerity
measures'. Therefore, the sparks are determined that there will
be no BESNA mark2 and why its vital that the rank and file
committees continue to ensure that a check can be kept on union
officials participating in these or future talks.
The 20 demands agreed at the rank and file meeting in Conway
Hall, London on 7th March to take to the union-side meeting as
the basis for any talks were also discussed and agreed by this
meeting in Manchester.
The need to step up the fight against blacklisting and agency
working explained by Steve Acheson from the platform and many
speakers from the floor was unanimously echoed by everyone in
Many speakers also stressed the importance of Unite launching a
serious recruitment drive on the sites with representatives of
the rank and file committees playing a leading role.
Dave Walsh, Unite Plasterers Branch Secretary from Liverpool and
others, pointed out that on the back of the sparks victory this
was an ideal time to recruit new members and organise the sites
and because of the transient nature of the industry a continuous
recruitment campaign was necessary. Dave also offered to
“organise a Liverpool Trades Council meeting to help push this
idea and to build support”.
There is also another immediate reason for such a campaign. The
bosses may well try to drag out the talks hoping that the
confident mood of construction workers will die down allowing
them to push through a BESNA mark 2. But a big public
recruitment campaign would help to cut across this.
Andy Bentley, NSSN Staffordshire organiser and Unite
Construction Sector member, said, “We have to make it quite
clear to the bosses that the longer they drag out the talks or
piss about agreeing to the demands of the sparks then the
stronger and more organised we will become on the sites with
such a campaign”.
A call was made at the end of the meeting for support to be
given to Steve Acheson's long running campaign against
blacklisting by visiting his regular protests. It was also
agreed to meet again in four weeks
Weekly protests will continue 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.