Tommy Clarke's, Mace, at The Tate Modern
I arrived at around 6:00am to do a little reccy of the area. There were at least 15 riot vans with at least 7 police in each. Rather over the top for what have been incredibly peaceful protests so far. People started arriving at around 6:30 and by 7:00 there were a good 300 there. There were students with us in solidarity, three representatives from the American Union The Teamsters, Labour MP for Hayes and Harlington and a few others. Plus the usual faces of Mick Dooley (UCATT), Unite Officers and The Rank and File.
The amount of police hanging around was stupid. On all the corners, at every gate, all quite far away from their vans. After around twenty minutes of speeches the call went out to man the gates. So off we trot to blockade the site entrance and gates. We then notice that the front of the pack have marched past the gate. In a confused state we follow. Round to the front of The Tate Modern we go and onto the Millennium Bridge. Chants of "who's bridge, our bridge" rung out but we didn't hang around long. It soon dawned on us that we were giving the police the run about. Quick jump over the river and bye bye 15 riot vans.
With only 5 old bill with us now we crossed the river and stopped in the middle of a road near St Paul's Cathedral. Five police officers telling 300 people to move from the street or you will be arrested doesn't quite have the same effect. After 15 minutes more police arrived so we marched down the road. Blocking off the whole road as we went. The whispers started going round to head to Blackfriars Station. Balfour Beatty. So that's where we headed.
Still blocking all the road as we went, we finally arrived. The police had second guessed us this time and had several riot vans waiting. We set ourselves up outside the site entrance and the speeches started again. Lads from the site came and joined us and listened in to the speeches and were happy to take the leaflets in to site. At 8:30 the protest was over for another week.
|Courtesy of Rob Williams|
|Courtesy of Rob Williams|
North East(provided by the North East RnF Committee)
Balfour Beatty, Carrington Paper Mill, Trafford
All electrical work stopped for the day at Balfour’s Carrington paper mill site in Greater Manchester, as protests in the north-west hit a new level organised from below by the Rank & File.
Around 100 sparks from across the region, together with 2 from Newcastle and 2 from Nottingham, protested outside the turnstiles. Despite numerous threats of sacking and victimisation, especially from Balfour’s, the protest drew a tremendous response from sparks on site.
Many sparks stayed away for the day. Four van-loads from Taylors spoke to protesters and then turned round and drove away. This is the first large-scale stoppage in the region, following action by a smaller number on the Liverpool central library site. The paper mill is a huge site with Balfour’s at the head of the Dirty 7 breakaway pay cutters. Steve Acheson, Unite branch secretary and north-west member of the Rank & File national steering committee, told me:
“The private security met us first thing when we got here, they said we’re not allowed to protest outside the turnstiles because it’s a private entrance. They wanted us to move down to the road. But the police came and, as before, they agreed it’s OK for us to protest where we are.
“Today is a brilliant result, with a great response from all the electrical personnel on the site, and this is despite widespread threats of getting the sack for lads who didn’t turn into work today. All the personnel are quite rightly fired up by this savage attack by Balfour’s who are slashing our living standards with this 35% pay cut.
“This is just the first of many more protests.”
Protest will return to Carrington in two weeks time and workers are confident of even bigger numbers and even bigger impact on the companies. The only discordant note of the day was that Unite officials held a small protest at Manchester town hall and then Salford MediaCity. Rank & File protests are scheduled for the next two weeks and these should receive full support from every echelon of Unite and across the trade union movement.
Weds 19 October, 6.30-10am, Manchester town hall (NG Baileys)
Weds 26 October, 6.30-10am, Carrington paper mill (Balfours)
Newcastle (provided by the Newcastle RnF Committee)
First of all very big and grateful thanks to the folks around the Star and Shadow cinema who provided tea before the crack of dawn.
Special mention must also be made to the two carloads of lads who travelled up from Teeside in quite atrocious weather.
But the really appalling weather didn't dampen the enthusiasm of the 50 or so who turned up to the demonstration.
It seems as though the employer did the same trick at this site as at the Tyne Tunnel a couple of weeks ago and told people to take half the morning off on full pay. This is a big victory for us and it also shows that if the employers are certainly taking us seriously.
The entire site was in darkness. We saw just a few shadowy figures wandering around. So we went into the site to talk to those we saw. None admitted to being an electrician. They complained about the lack of electricity on the site. Just a couple of days ago there was plenty of electricity to that site but not today. Anyhow we had a good talk with the people we saw and left leaflets.
Unfortunately one idiot on the site threw a brick at us. Fortunately no more bricks came our way, just as well otherwise we would have gone onto the site to ask why they had done it.
With the rain still lashing down just about horizontally one of the lads from Teeside suggested we block the entrance and no traffic would be allowed in. Just after this a heavy goods vehicle tried to enter the site. We refused. After 2 minutes Benfield Road was a solid car park in both directions. When the driver realised we weren't gonna move he drove off.
Just after this the employer shut the gates onto the site. Moments later a van of contractors left the site.
We then planned our next demonstration for Ashington High school. The Teeside lads promised to plan a demonstration at the Corus steelworks in the next week or two. For an effective blockade of this massive site we need a big turnout. As lads from Teeside have been to all our actions we need to get down there.
It was said that 14 of the lads who were at the Balfours office demonstration were finished shortly afterwards at the Tunnel. Was this coincidence ? We know the Tunnel job is coming to its natural end. Before these pay offs were made known the lads were phoned up by agencies to ask if they had taken part in the demonstration. So be careful what you say on the phone.
At the London protest we had the pleasure of members of the American Union The Teamsters. They have been locked out of their jobs at Sotheby's Auction House in New York as they wont sign a new contract on lesser terms (sound familiar?). They are here in London to protest outside the London Sotheby's. It would be greatly appreciated we could show some solidarity back to The Teamsters and join them in their protest tomorrow evening. Read about their dispute here
Thursday 13th October 6:00pm -Sotheby's Auction House, 34-35 New Bond Street,London W1A 2AA
Sellafield, Balfour Beatty
Tomorrow there is a protest at Sellafield Power Station. Much to the annoyance of Balfour Beatty. Sellafield have expressed deep concern about the situation and have categorically stated that IF there are walk outs and loss of production then they WILL have to re-think using Balfour Beatty and Crown House for the remainder of the project and future projects.
Mr. John Moore (or one of your minions), if you are reading this. A march and a protest outside the site is just a warning shot. Wait until the walk outs start.
Also, take note of this rather relevant quote from WW2 Japanese Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto
"I fear all we have done is to awaken a sleeping giant and fill him with a terrible resolve."
A sleeping giant we have been, now that we have been awoken we are ready and willing to strike back. And take this as a promise, WE ARE COMING FOR YOU
I have also heard that there is to be a protest in West Sussex this Friday but I have not been told the time and location yet, so watch this space.
Keep The Faith