The recent struggle was sparked off by the sacking of 51 construction workers originally hired by the sub-contractor Shaw UK on 10th June, at the same time, disgustingly, another sub-contractor (R. Blackett & Charlton Limited) was allowed to recruit a further 61 other workers with similar work credentials. Understandably, many of the workforce were very pissed off about their colleagues’ job losses, the move by the management not only went against the demands won in the January to February wildcat, but it also reflected the crisis in employment due to the failures of British Capitalism (again) as 100,000 workers lose their jobs every month! In a show of true working class solidarity, over 1,200 contract workers, including Shaw UK workers, as well as other workers such as scaffolders and electricians, spontaneously put down their tools and walked out without official union backing on Thursday 11th June. Their demands included (but is not limited to) the reinstatement of all workers made redundant, trade union assistance for immigrant workers (via interpreters) to give the right of access to trade union advice and to promote active integrated trade union membership, and government and employer investment in proper training or apprenticeships for the new generation of construction workers. The GMB Union and Unite Union originally refused to recognise the strike as it was ‘unofficial’, again showing the parasitic nature of trade unions and their bureaucrats who are only in their position to serve themselves until their reputation or high figure salaries are threatened.
Early on, the management refused to negotiate until the workers went back to work, and stated their original intentions of sacking the 51. In a clear show of opposition to workers’ struggle, the Total management, on the 18th, reported the sacking of 647 workers due to the ‘unofficial’ strike action, a move any boss is allowed to take due to the anti-trade union laws Thatcher introduced, and which Blair and the Labour Party maintains up to now. However, this was not tolerated by the workers at Lindsey, or by their fellow workers working on sites in Wales, to Nottinghamshire and the Mersey, Yorkshire, Cumbria and Scotland. At least 10 different sites across Britain had experienced ‘unofficial’ strike action in solidarity with the (overall number of) 698 workers made redundant. In addition to that, solidarity actions have taken place elsewhere by activists and workers, such as the picketing of Total petrol stations and fundraising for the strikers. By this time, due to the size of the walkouts and redundancies, the unions were forced to give the strike an official dispute status.
On Friday 26th, over a fortnight after the first workers walked out, it was announced that an agreement had been reached by trade union bureaucrats, negotiating ‘on behalf’ of the strikers, and employers. Union leaders said the deal involved the reinstatement of the 647 workers, and it is thought that the 51 workers made redundant on 10th June would be offered the chance to return to work. Even when this article goes to print, 150 workers at Longannet power station in Scotland voted to return to work after hearing of the victory, the deal made is to be taken to the workers on Monday 29th. Once again, the Lindsey Refinery strikers have set a shining example for all workers, whatever their profession, showing that collective spontaneous action can very well lead to, not only the safeguarding of jobs, but also of improving working conditions in the meantime, while we wait impatiently for our distant revolution in the future.
Working Class Pride! One Class, One Struggle!