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Sparks blockade Balfour Beatty at Blackfriars Bridge

This morning electricians in London took the fight against pay cuts and deskilling to the largest company behind the attack on their terms and conditions – Balfour Beatty.

300 sparks blockaded the entrance to the Balfour Beatty Blackfriars station site, stopping workers and management entering the site, showing their determination to resist attacks on their terms and conditions.

Balfour Beatty are a prime example of the looting of the working-class being carried out by the capitalists in the economic crisis. Despite making pre-tax profits of £50.5 million last year it is trying to force through a 35% pay cut of electricians in order to increase its profit margins. Balfour Beatty has no shortage of projects, with over £15.5 billion on its books since last year, its action are motivated by a profit, driving them to smash the terms and conditions of construction workers and initiate a race to the bottom in working conditions and pay.

Spirits were high as construction workers and students picketed the main entrance to the site, with many electricians staying away or refusing to go in while the picket was there. They also blockaded a goods entrance, turning lorries full of materials away from the site.

Police were out in force with a line of police behind the picket, and cops full of riot vans opposite the site entrance. They helped a few scabs through the line but didn’t always succeed against the determined pickets.

A delegation from Occupy LSX came down from the St Pauls camp, just up the road from Blackfriars. They were warmly greeted and many electricians said they supported the protests against the greed of the bankers.

The picket lasted longer than others before, showing electricians determination to hurt Balfour Beatty and make it clear they are prepared to escalate if the companies trying to pull out of the JIB agreement do not back down.

The picket was bigger than others, but it didn’t manage to shut the site down completely. Management were able to sneak workers in through a back entrance for a while before this was shut with a picket. Next time we need to make sure we are not just blockading one entrance, but that all entrances are picketed right from the start.

The protests must become more organised, and picket the sites more effectively. Rank and file organising meetings, drawing in the mass of workers who attend the protests will be crucial to organising and preparing the rank and file to carry out this action more effectively.

We need to ensure the sites are totally shut down, with no workers or materials getting in. That will teach the bosses a lesson in workers power.

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