GMB considers action over alleged discrimination against UK construction engineering workers
The GMB union has confirmed that it is considering sanctioning an official strike ballot in protest over continuing “discrimination against UK workers”.
At a meeting earlier this week, the union's central executive council said it was considering “how best to protect the terms and conditions of employment in the UK construction engineering industry”.
It added: “As things now stand, the UK business department, EU Commission and European court of justice are a powerful and malevolent political force working with employers to cut terms and conditions of the UK construction engineering workforce.”
A meeting is now being scheduled for all GMB shop stewards and officials to consider what next steps to take.
The UK business department, EU Commission and European court of justice are a powerful and malevolent political force working with employers to cut terms and conditions of the UK construction engineering workforce
GMB central executive council
Paul Kenny, GMB general secretary, said that union members “have been let down by employers like Alstom, by the UK government, by Acas, by the EU Commission and by the European court.
“They need to look at how they can best defend themselves with the assistance of the union. The [GMB executive] have made clear that it will sanction an official strike ballot should that be the route this meeting decides to go”.
If the strike goes ahead, it will be the first officially sanctioned by a union over the issue, following the recent series of unofficial wildcat strikes about alleged discrimination against UK workers.
The GMB alleged contractors at the Isle of Grain in Kent are reportedly seeking planning permission to use an accommodation barge and disused army barracks to house Polish workers due to be brought to the UK to build the station.
The company has written assurance from all of its sub contractors that they will consider local workers on an equal and fair basis for any additional job
The union said that planning permission for the barge had already been given to Dr C Wesolowski from Alstom Power Systems to house 200 workers between January 2009 and November 2010.
A spokesperson for Alstom said: “We do provide British jobs for British workers and we're proud to do so. The company has written assurance from all of its sub contractors that they will consider local workers on an equal and fair basis for any additional jobs. It has also made sure that all of its sites comply with the nationally recognised rates of pay and conditions for workers, whatever their nationality.
“Alstom employs around 5000 people in the UK - working in the power and transport industries - the vast majority of whom are UK nationals. Two thirds of the work at the company's power station construction sites will be carried out by British workers.
“In terms of temporary accommodation, Grain is a remote site which is difficult to access. We're working with our sub contractors to identify the best option for accommodating workers, be they from the UK or overseas.”
Medway Council confirmed that a planning application had been submitted for 200 workers, but said there had been no mention of foreign workers, and that it had not yet been approved.