Thursday 1 January 2009

British socialist Jerry Hicks on refinery disputes

from Socialist Unity [UK blog] 30 January 2009 STRIKE ACTION ESCULATES AS WORKERS FIGHT FOR THE RIGHT TO WORK, But it should come as no surprise! I spoke to Jerry Hicks a few minutes ago. Jerry is the left candidate in the forthcoming election for General Secretary of the Amicus section of Unite. Jerry tells me he has been in touch with the strikers, and this is very far from being a racist or reactionary strike. Indeed, one protester contacted Jerry after reading one of his election leaflets, and had decided to join Unite on the basis of Jerry's socialist arguments - there is no way that a racist would agree with Jerry Hicks explicitly socialist campaign. Jerry points out that socialists, and members of Respect are very welcome at these protests, and we should oppose the attempts by the far-right BNP to hijack these working class protests towards their own racist and anti-working class agenda. Earlier today Jerry Hicks released a statement reminding us that an emergency meeting of the national construction shop stewards forum took place in London as long ago as the 8th January. The meeting discussed the escalating crisis in construction following a series of protests in November and December of last year, over employment rights and also the proposed exclusion of UK workers by foreign companies on power stations and other major UK contracts. The meeting was originally called for at Newark on the 3rd December following a series of protests at the gates of Staythope Power Station. At the meeting shop stewards voted overwhelmingly to organise a programme of demonstrations toward targeted construction projects within the UK power generation sector. Shop stewards and trade union activists find it is hard enough as it is to get a job in the industry because of the black listing by the employers. It is a way of reducing their costs and attempting to break union organisation on the major projects. Rank and file members are preparing for mass disruption on projects throughout the country that refuse to recognise union national agreements. There will be organised demonstrations strikes and mass disruption. We are preparing for a battle to defend our jobs. Jerry Hicks a candidate in the coming election for General Secretary in the UK's biggest union Unite-Amicus is supporting the action. He was present at a recent protest at Staythorpe power station where he sustained a fractured leg, having been assaulted by the police. He said: “This should come as no surprise to anyone. The employers have deliberately and actively been looking for ways to exploit cheap labour while covering their eyes and ears to the growing rage of discontent and ignoring all the warning signs, it's outrageous". Mr Hicks went on to say, "To its shame the union leadership failed miserably to grasp the nettle months ago when the dispute was a crisis in the making. The union needs to confront the employers and organise a national campaign for industrial action." The employers watch and listen to everything we say and do. If the union does little and says even less they drive the boot in harder and our situation gets worse. This is not about race or prejudice it is about the exploitation of labour, playing one worker against another. It is about the employers trying to break nationally agreed arrangements and in doing so it is an attack on the union. Gordon Brown, who at the last Labour party conference said "British jobs for British workers" has created a huge problem all of his own making. He can no longer simply sit on his hands waiting on the sidelines. Meanwhile, other energy companies are observing what happens next as they seek to further exploit the cheap foreign labour market. This issue is as a result of the Employers deliberately exploiting a situation, the union leaderships woeful lack of response and Browns pronouncement, Now they act like the like the three monkeys. Hear no evil, speak no evil, see no evil.

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