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Victory for sparks as Balfour Beatty backs down

Electricians across the country are celebrating their victory against the corrupt bosses of Balfour Beatty. The company was trying to force its workers to sign up to new contracts (BESNA) where they’d get less pay and worse conditions.

But electricians and building workers weren’t going to take it lying down. After months of protests, occupations, and even a few wildcat strikes (strikes where the official procedures aren’t followed), the company has been forced to back down.

Many of the workers are part of the UNITE trade union, and felt let down by how slow the union leaders, such as Len McCluskey, were acting on the issue. Instead of relying on their official leaders, they set up the ‘rank and file committee’ of ordinary members of the union, and organised a series of impressive protests and demonstrations.

But the sparks didn’t ignore the union leaders either, they pressured them to organise a vote on taking official strike action. The union members voted massively in favour of a strike, and Balfour Beatty execs were so scared they tried to take the union to court to prevent workers from stopping work!

But even the threat of the courts could not stop the protests from growing, and trade unionists from America even offered to throw their weight behind the British workers, with leader of the Teamsters, James Hoffa, saying their union would take action against Balfour if they didn’t give the electricians what they wanted.

There are still six other construction firms which are trying to impose BESNA contracts on their workers. The contracts create a new type of semi-skilled electricians’ job which would mean the sparks would get lower pay.

The victory against the millionaire execs of Balfour Beatty is a victory for all workers. It shows how you can take action and win even when your official leaders are slow or getting in the way, and should be an inspiration to other trade unionists fighting pension cuts, job losses and pay freezes. Let’s use their example to defeat the remaining construction companies, and to protect the public sector from the Tory axe.

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One Response to Victory for sparks as Balfour Beatty backs down

  1. Jack

    February 21, 2012 at 6:07 pm

    Six more to go! Inspiring rank and file actions, and it’s working!

    http://reelnews.co.uk/sparks-disrupt-bosses-dinner-then-sensationally-defeat-balfour-beatty/

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