Balfour Beatty refused to recognise the overwhelming result and took it to court. It didn't get as far as the induction being imposed but the threat was enough for Unite to back out and opt to re-ballot instead. Mainly due to going back and forth in the courts would take alot longer than re-balloting and getting the action started.
The first day of the official strike action was going to be the 7th December. Workers refused to recognise the Balfour threat and chose to walk out anyway
Across the UK, thousands of M&E workers walked off of jobs and hundreds of others refused to cross the picket line.
It even made the BBC News Website. Daily Mirror
In London we started nice and early out front of Blackfrairs Station, Balfour Beatty.
The cold December weather did not deter anybody though. By 7am the crowd had swelled to just over 500.
At this point 30 of us went around the back of site to the delivery gate and blocked that off so that the two lorries inside could not leave and no more could enter. The gates were blocked all morning. At 8:30 the banksman asked when we would be leaving, he was told that we were to be there all day. So he duly started calling through his delivery list for the day and cancelling every single one.
Back round the front there was a full picket in place. Lots of heavy handed police tactics. One of the favourites seemed to be kicking the back of the knee so that your legs buckle. There was lots of pushing and shoving started by the City Of London police who seemed intent on a bit of action. It seems every week, they arrive more up for a row than ever.
There were messages of solidarity from John McDonnell - MP, Bob Crow - RMT and Unite EC among many others.
About 9am it was pointed out that the gate around the otherside was unmanned. So people quickly got round there and tried to get entry to the site. Suddenly the police appeared from no where, they started throwing people through the barriers and one can even be seen punching protesters. This stoked up the anger even more and more pushing and shoving occurred.
From this the police pushed the protesters into the road which blocked the road off for half hour.
After it was passed onto us that NO M&E workers went in to Blackfriars we decided that our job there was done.
We then marched the couple of miles down to Balfour Beattys Head office near Victoria Station. We were outside there for over half hour letting our feelings be known.
It was then brought to our attention that Gratte Brothers are working around the corner on the new Harvey Nicols. As just under 100 of us approached the massive site, the fire alarms started ringing out. One by One, over 500 workers streamed past us and off the site to the muster point. Once the last one had walked out we walked in. Unfortunately, we were met by turnstiles so we couldn't gain access to the site.
We stayed out front with a police line blocking all entrances to the site. The police then stated that no one would be entering the site until whilst we are still here. So we stayed, two roads blocked. Site totally shut.
We decided well over an hour later that we had made out point here and dispersed to pubs in the area and agreed to meet up back at Blackfriars for 5:30pm to hit the night shift.
After a few beers we re-grouped back at Blackfriars station. The picket grew to around 100 and once again, no Balfour Beatty workers crossed the picket line.
Wednesday 14th December 6:30am - Kings Cross Station
Manchester report by North West RnF
Following our weekly Wednesday protest this morning, Manchester Labour councillors sat up and took notice of what we’ve been saying.
Work on the £100million contract to refurbish the town hall annexe and central library is being done by companies including the pay-cutting deskilling blacklisting outfit NG Baileys.
Manchester city council were holding their full meeting as our protest was drawing to an end, and the lead councillor Geoff Smith came out to speak to us. I said to him, “If this can happen at the headquarters of a Labour-dominated council, what chance have we got anywhere else?!”
I explained about Baileys blacklisting and trying to impose the new Besna contract, and emphasised that as this is a Labour council, we expect something to be done about it! It’s not like we’re appealing to a Tory council, we want the council to intervene and force the contractors to commit to no pay cuts, no deskilling (which Baileys has a track record of, such as the Whiston hospital site), and a stop to be put to blacklisting. Cllr Smith promised to get back to us.
We’re committed to protest here as long as it takes, a long-term sustained protest until our demands are met. We’ll be putting in written questions to the council in advance of their next full meeting on Weds 1st February 2012, by when we expect this to be resolved. That meeting will be at 10am in the town hall.
Next Wednesday (14th December), we’ll be doing two hours on the front of the site from 7-9pm at the site gates on Peter Street, and then taking our banners round to the town hall main entrance on Albert Square. We urge all supporters to join us for both parts of the protest.
A couple of reports from the North East RnF on Hartlepool
"Weds. 7th Dec.2011, Hartlepool; sparks hit Heerema again. A massive site with two main gates, well over a mile apart.
We start at the Headland gate, about 150 of us; we briefly blockade the gate & somebody causes a loud bang. Lots of people masked up, (well, it's bloody cold innit?). Then off to the Greenlands gate in a proper march down the road led by the Unite construction workers' branch banner. Six bizzie vans & three cars at the second gate & they stop us totally blockading the gate, but there's a couple more bangs, everyone is in a good mood and when they try to make the usual announcement about obstruction and being arrested we make a lot of noise and drown them out. The bizzies also have a camera person for the first time.
About 8.30am we decide to march back to the Headland:
"Quote of the day by a police man as we walked back to the headland in Hartlepool. Right lads the protest is over now so if you stay on the footpath as you walk back we can go. Yeah ok mate straight over the roundabout for us."
The police made several other half hearted attempts to get us onto the pavement on the way back, but we held the road. And then, only a few hundred yards from our final destination, they stupidly block the road with one of their vans and a line of cops. After a brief hesitation, we push through and there's a ruck which looks like getting out of hand until Sergeant Sensible calls off his troops. Wise move. We win & everyone's got that buzz.
Thing is, the sparks' dispute is with Balfours and the other six construction companies, so how come we end up in conflict with the cops? Partly its because they 'uphold the law', and the law says that anything we might do to effectively win the dispute is illegal. But its also because they are trained to 'be in control'. Mostly they get away with it only because people do what the bizzies tell them to do; when people stop doing that it changes everything. You're not in control Mr. Plod, we are - just stand on the pavement yourselves and keep out of our way. At the end, one of them tried to make an announcement to anyone who would listen that the march was illegal because we hadn't informed the police about it. Yes mate, got it in one."
"A very cold morning didn't put M&E workers off turning up at BBES head office in Hillington, Glasgow. The morning began at Grangemouth with a bus leaving Ineos Grangemouth filled with guys working from there which headed to Hilington for around 8am. Around 120 workers were gathered outside the BBES office main entrance, including guys deliberately wearing their BBES high visibility jackets to prove that Gery Harvey of BBES HR's comments that "BBES operatives have not been involved in protests, these are anti-capitalist protesters" were in fact complete lies just like the BESNA document.
Chants of "BESNA BESNA BESNA, OUT OUT OUT" and "SHOVE YER BESNA UP YER ARSE!" rang out everytime staff entered the building. News was filtering through of the other action that was going on elsewhere around the country which lifted spirits even more. As we were getting near to the end of our protest it was proposed that we head along to the Strathclyde Fire & Rescue job in Cambuslang which BBES were on, only 6 miles along the motorway, so it made sense to carry on the improvisation which worked so well in Glasgow City Centre the previous Saturday. Before we left though as we were huddled round, a box of fireworks was lit on the path and went off as we dispersed. On to Cambuslang, where the lads on there new we were coming as news had filtered from the Facebook page. More chanting commenced at gradually all the BBES guys walked off site and also the Geordie sub-contractors working for BBES. Once all were out we decided to march round the site car park and then congregated outside the BBES site offices for a while with more chanting. Then we moved along to the main contractor Bovis Lend Lease offices where some lads decided to occupy these offices, chants of "get the kettle on!" rang out. They were in there for at least half an hour! Obviously the Police were called and we soon dispersed to outside the gate again. News filtered through to other sites of what had happened and Aberdeen site walked at 1pm with the Dunfermline site walking at 2pm. Successful day, and to top it all the Scottish weather obviously thinks the BESNA is a load of shite too as building sites all over the country today(Thursday) were shut due to the newly christened "Hurricane BESNA" without us having to lift a finger! So disruption for a 2nd day! Geeeeeeesit!!!!"
A video report of the day in Scotland by Union News
There was a demonstration in Birkenhead, Liverpool - St Catherines Hospital - Balfour Beatty
"A good morning's work by the hardy souls who braved the Arctic conditions !
Great support from the workers who took our points onboard over these attacks on conditions and we advised management and security to get the local constabulary down after "heated discussions" They duly turned up and were very sympathetic to our plight and peaceful demonstration
NHS Estates were sought and given a brief insight into why their Hospital had been chosen for Industrial Action
They too , took literature and again, were most sympathetic to our plight stating " we're in the same boat!""
M&E workers walked out of the Conoco Site at Immingham and also several other sites in the area.
There were roughly 300 in attendance.
Cardiff saw its first action on with 50 workers outside of Llandough hospital, Penarth. They leafleted the workers and most refused to go in. There is a meeting today to plan the next steps for the area.
There was also a well attended demonstration in Hull at Kelvin Hall, where some off of the Vivergo and West Burton sites went along to support.
On the 20th December, M&E workers at Balfour Beatty, Spie Matthew Hall and NG Bailey will be balloted all at once for strike action. The ballot closes on the 6th January. Wednesday saw the BIGGEST Unofficial walk outs in any sector for years.
Keep up the good work
Spread the word