By John Millington
At Kings Cross Station, London
Electricians and construction bosses looked set for a protracted confrontation over pay and conditions, after Unite staged one of a series planned protests early this morning.
Around 50 workers gathered outside the Francis Crick institute building site at 7am today accusing Crown House employers of unilaterally tearing up the Joint Industry Board Agreement (JIB) – a mechanism to ensure basic terms conditions for workers.
These include a right to direct employment, minimum pay standards and basic health and safety provisions.
However the Unite union told the Dreadnaught that Crown House had reneged on the agreement and had begun cutting workers pay and conditions.
Unite Officer Guy Langston said: “They have pulled our members of the JIB with no consultation.”
“Our members haven;t got any right to unfair dismal from day one .”
“They also haven’t got the legal protection under that agreement.”
“The JIB was put in place to build industrial relations and to get rid of the problems we had.”
“It is for both employers and trade unions.”
Mr Langston also said that workers would now be forced to “ramp up” their campaign following this attack on their terms and conditions.
“They [bosses] are making qualified electricians into labourers where they will take a pay cut of up to 6 or 7 pound an hour,” he said.
Seven employers along with Crown House had originally tried to force through the BESNA contract but were forced to abandon their plans earlier this year after a sustained militant campaign by rank and file trade union activists against 35 percent pay cuts in the industry.
Mr Langston said he suspects Crown House are attempting to launch a “BESNA 2” in order to make a quick profit.
“Crown house has gone out on its own and this is BESNA 2 as far as we are concerned,” he added.
“This is now a national campaign to get Crown House back in the JIB.”
Unite regional officer Malcolm Bonnet – a veteran of the BESNA dispute – told the Dreadnaught: “We need to coordinate. A strong union like Unite needs to target these projects, get rid of self employment and shame them into changing course.”
Addressing workers as they gathered outside the construction site gates, spark Ian Holloway said: “We are gonna make sure all workers are unionised on this site, build the movement, build the networks and start the strike action when it comes.”
Although Crown House (CHT) bosses have denied leaving the JIB, an electrician who wished to remain anonymous posted at text allegedly from CHT to all employees saying:
“As you are all now fully aware the company has taken action to ensure we can remain competative in the long term. To this end we will be shortly be dispatching new contracts to all opperatives. If you should choose not to sign, your employment will automatically be terminated. To avoid this signed & dated contracts are be returned by close of business on Friday the 7th of September 2012.”
*The Dreadnaught contacted Crown House for comment on both the text and accusations that they have left the JIB. No reply has been received so far.