Archive for the ‘strike’ Tag

Vestas workers besieged by riot police

Vestas workers besieged by riot police

Workers staging a sit-in at the soon-to-close Vestas wind turbine plant on the Isle of Wight are being starved out by police.

The police, many inside the factory and dressed in riot gear, have denied food to the workers who took over the factory offices last night, to protest about the closure of their factory. The police, operating with highly questionable legal authority, have surrounded the offices, preventing supporters from joining the sit-in, and preventing food from being brought to the protestors.

Around 20 workers at the Vestas Plant in Newport, on the Isle of Wight, occupied the top floor of offices in their factory to protest against its closure which will result in over 500 job losses.

Acting without an injunction, on private property, the police have repeatedly tried to break into the office where the protesting workers have barricaded themselves, and have threatened the workers with arrest for aggravated trespass, despite the fact that no damage has been done to the property where the protest is taking place. Police have also forcibly removed people from private property, another action that is of very questionable legality in the absence of a formal injunction.

The officer involved in the latter action was number 3606. The officer who appears to be in charge is 3115. It may help to let the local police authorities know that we are unhappy with their handling of the situation – in this case the email address to bombard is

This heavy handed response is the latest in a long line of over-reactions to protest by various UK police forces.

For more updates on the Vestas occupation please visit Save Vestas.

Total and unions reach deal on oil refinery wildcats

Total and unions reach deal on oil refinery wildcats

Early reports indicate a deal to end the bitter jobs dispute at the Total-run Lindsey oil refinery, which has led to unofficial walkouts by thousands of workers across the country.

The agreement follows talks between union leaders and employers of contract staff at the North Lincolnshire site. Unions said the deal involved the reinstatement of 647 workers sacked for taking unofficial strike action and would be put to the workers on Monday.

Total said it was pleased that “a positive conclusion” had been reached. In a statement on Friday, a spokesman for the company said:

“Total is pleased that the contract companies and the unions were able to reach a positive conclusion at talks last night.

“We expect this means that the contractors will be able to get back to work as soon as possible and get the project completed on time and with no further disruption or additional costs.”

The Lindsey workers went on strike on 11 June after a sub-contractor cut 51 jobs. It is thought those people will also be offered the chance to return to work.

The dispute sparked wildcat sympathy walkouts involving thousands of workers at power stations and oil and gas facilities across the country.

Even in a slump, strikes and occupations can get results

Even in a slump, strikes and occupations can get results

A revolution is taking place in industrial relations, the Confederation of British Industry claims, courtesy of the worst economic crisis since the 1930s. A new “solidarity of employers and their employees” has taken hold, John Cridland, the CBI’s deputy director-general enthused this week, as managements and staff roll up their sleeves to take the “difficult decisions” needed to survive the slump.

If so, news of the new understanding clearly hasn’t reached Lincolnshire, where hundreds of engineering ­construction workers at the Lindsey oil refinery burned dismissal notices on Monday after they were sacked for going on strike – and thousands walked out in sympathy across the energy industry for the third time in five months.

The latest dispute began nearly a fortnight ago, when a subcontractor for Total, which owns the refinery, made 51 workers redundant while another contractor was hiring 61 staff on the same project. After hundreds stopped work in protest and unofficial strikes spread by text and flying pickets across Britain, 647 workers were summarily sacked on Thursday night.

By any reckoning, this was surely a provocative and self-defeating move. Not only had the same workforce already demonstrated its capacity to shut down the site – and significant sections of the wider industry – if it believed agreements were being undercut. But the layoffs were in direct violation of a deal to settle an earlier dispute. Perhaps the idea was finally to bring to heel what one manager described as an “unruly workforce”. But after point-blank refusals to negotiate until the workers had applied for their jobs back, the contractors blinked once again and were back in talks on Tuesday, now due to be resumed .

This was, after all, the same group of workers whose unofficial strikes stopped refineries and power stations all over the country in February after a Sicilian contractor shipped in a non-union, and apparently less skilled, Italian and Portuguese workforce. That first Lindsey walkout was portrayed as anti-foreigner because of “British jobs for British workers” placards held by some strikers, as to a lesser extent was another strike in May over a refusal to take on locally based labour at ExxonMobil’s South Hook terminal in Wales.

In fact, both walkouts were clearly aimed at halting the exploitation of EU directives and European court ­judgments to undermine the terms and conditions of all workers in the industry, British and migrant alike – which is why hundreds of Polish workers joined the stoppages. And, crucially, they were successful. In a profitable and highly contractualised industry, a tightly knit workforce has turned a fragmentation designed to benefit employers to their own advantage.

Now, as the unions prepare to ballot 30,000 workers to turn the wildcat walkouts into an official strike, they look set to prevail again – just as Grangemouth oil refinery workers and Shell tanker drivers did last year in battles over pension rights and pay. Success seems to be catching.

Wildcat strikes spread as workers burn dismissal letters

As reported by

Thousands of workers across England and Wales have walked out in support of 647 Lindsey oil refinery construction staff sacked for staging unofficial strikes.

It comes as Lindsey workers burned dozens of dismissal letters in protest.

Total, which runs the facility in North Lincolnshire, gave them until 1700 BST on Monday to reapply for their jobs.

The wildcat strikes involving about 3,000 workers are being held at eight sites including Sellafield in Cumbria and the Ensus biofuel site in Teesside.

Total said it was “encouraged” by the amount of feedback from workers involved, but would not know how many had reapplied for their jobs until the end of the week because of the number of sub-contractors on the site.

“Our government will be subservient to companies like this – but we won’t” Kenny Ward, Sacked worker

The Lindsey workers first withdrew their labour on 11 June in protest at a sub-contractor axing 51 jobs while another employer on the site was hiring people.

Last week, Total announced it had dismissed 647 construction workers following the unofficial strikes. They had been building another plant next to the existing site in Killingholme.

Workers across the UK have walked out in sympathy, with thousands downing tools on Monday in unofficial action.

See also: Independent report.

Energy wildcat strikes spread across UK

Energy wildcat strikes spread across UK

The oil refinery wildcat strike over redundancies has escalated as workers from several power stations and oil terminals across the UK took unofficial industrial action.

The dispute flared a week ago at the Lindsey oil refinery in Lincolnshire when a contractor laid off 51 workers while another employer on the site was hiring staff.

Around 1,200 contract workers at the terminal, which is owned by Total, have been taking unofficial action all week as efforts were made to convene talks.

Sources said today that workers at several other sites across the country joined the industrial action, hitting power stations at Drax and Eggborough in Yorkshire, Ratcliffe and West Burton in Nottinghamshire, Fiddlers Ferry in Cheshire and Aberthaw in South Wales.

Contractors at a BP refinery near Hull also joined the strike action.

James Wong-McSweeney explains why he went on strike…

James Wong-McSweeney explains why he went on strike…

Having read the columns by Rachel Large and Kay Taylor, neither of whom supported the Tube strike, I thought you’d all like to hear from someone who did. I’m a member of the RMT and have been since I joined London Underground two-and-a-half years ago. You might think that the RMT is always on strike but we’re not – in fact, this was my first strike since I joined. I did it willingly and of my own free will. Nobody made me do it, let alone Bob Crow, whom I’ve never met.

Despite what Rachel believes, I did it because not one, or two, but seven injustices have happened – and 1,000 more are going to happen in London Underground and 3,000 more in Transport for London. That’s 4,000 job cuts, meaning 4,000 people out of work, no matter what it’s dressed up as. And all of this to pay back a debt that would never have happened if Gordon Brown hadn’t forced through the privatisation of the maintenance of London Underground.

That’s why I went on strike. Not to p*** off the travelling public but to defend my fellow union members. Why? So that when the day comes that I need help – and it will come – they will be there to defend me. Strength through unity: that’s what being in a union is all about.

Sacked union convenor re-instated at Linamar Swansea

Sacked union convenor re-instated at Linamar Swansea

Rob Williams, the union convenor sacked at the Linamar plant in Swansea, has been reinstated just hours before plant workers were due to go on strike.

Workers at the Linamar (formerly Visteon) plant were due to begin strike action at 6am this morning. Workers had overwhelmingly voted in support of an indefinite ‘all-out’ strike, with the chief demand being the reinstatment of their fellow worker and union convenor. The vote had an 88% turn-out.

According to the Socialist Party, of whom Williams is a member, he has been unconditionally reinstated as convenor at the Linamar Swansea plant, effective today.

Barton’s Britain: Orgreave

Barton’s Britain: Orgreave

Dark and damp and deep, the earth gives up its secrets: scraps of metal, furls of plastic, rubble and pebbles and clay. Among them lie shards of coal, brittle and black and glistening. Rain speckles the soil, the mounds of earth, the stationary diggers. This is all that is left of Orgreave opencast mine.

It is 25 years since the Battle of Orgreave. In June 1984, at the height of the miners’ strike, the National Union of Mineworkers rallied some 6,000 pickets to this corner of Yorkshire, intending to blockade the coking plant and perhaps force its temporary closure. In response, the police sent somewhere between four and eight thousand officers, 50 mounted police and 58 police dogs. The events of that afternoon were violent and ferocious and long-disputed.

In its aftermath, 95 pickets were charged – although, of the trials that were brought, all collapsed, and South Yorkshire Police later awarded £425,000 compensation to 39 pickets.

Defeated Visteon offers former workers improved redundancy package

Defeated Visteon offers former workers improved redundancy package

After more than 30 days of protests across the country, the automotive parts company Visteon has finally cracked and offered its former workers what they deem to be an adequate redundancy package.

Nearly 600 jobs were lost at Visteon’s plants in Enfield, Belfast and Basildon just over a month ago, with staff being given less than an hour’s notice. The workers say they were given guarantees on pay and conditions when the company was spun out of Ford nine years ago.

Today Unite said a renewed deal, which goes beyond the Ford redundancy terms, had been accepted unanimously by the union’s convenors and shop stewards. The proposed settlement deal will see a considerable lift in the redundancy package offered to workers with long service and who previously worked for Ford.

Hundreds of French workers take bosses hostage

Hundreds of French workers take bosses hostage

PARIS, France (CNN) — Hundreds of French workers, angry about proposed layoffs at a Caterpillar factory, were holding executives of the company hostage Tuesday, a spokesman for the workers said.

It is at least the third time this month that French workers threatened with cutbacks have blockaded managers in their offices to demand negotiations. Executives were released unharmed in both previous situations.

The latest incident started Tuesday morning at the office of the construction equipment company in the southeastern city of Grenoble.

The workers were angry that Caterpillar had proposed cutting more than 700 jobs and would not negotiate, said Nicolas Benoit, a spokesman for the workers’ union.

They did not want to harm the Caterpillar executives, Benoit told CNN.

One hostage was released Tuesday evening leaving workers with four captives inside the Caterpillar building.

The released man was a human resources director identified only as Mr. Petit, because he has heart problems, union representative Bernard Patrick told CNN. Petit had a heart attack a few weeks ago, Patrick said.

The four others still being held are Nicolas Polutnik, the head of operations; two other executives; and Petit’s personal assistant, he said.

About 500 employees were also outside the building protesting.

A top Caterpillar executive called the hostage-taking unhelpful.