Monday, 17 October 2011

The Sparks' struggle rages on

The Sparks rank-and-file network continues to be the most important and inspirational development in the workers' movement. Not only have they successfully challenged the inertia of the Unite union bureaucracy, they have invigorated their struggle with well-supported, unofficial direct action. This Wednesday, they are taking the fight to Blackfriars in their biggest action yet.

Balfour Beatty, who run the Blackfriars construction project, are not only the driving force behind the 35% pay cut and withdrawal from the JIB National Agreement. They are also one of the main culprits in the blacklisting of construction workers for taking part in trade union activities. It is appropriate that their most significant opponents are now the workers also taking on Unite, since full time officials were revealed to have collaborated in this insidious practice which cost many workers their livelihoods. Both that scandal and the current dispute reveal the urgency of the need for workers to control their own struggles.

Last week, Balfour Beatty issued 1700 termination notices to workers, and have begun sacking those who took part in protests and refused to cross picket lines. In response, the Sparks have defiantly declared that "we intend to shut this building site by sheer force of numbers if need be."

The Sparks represent where all trade union workers need to be, if we are to stand up against the bosses in a time of increasing class antagonism. If you are in London, get down to the action and show your support. If you are in Manchester or Newcastle, there are also actions close to you which you can find out about on the Facebook group here.

Wherever you are, these workers deserve whatever practical solidarity we can offer them. Not only in support of their own cause, but because against both the attacks of the bosses and the pragmatic compromise of union tops we all face the same struggle. The Sparks' victory in this will serve as a demonstration that any of us can win the same fight, whilst where there is defeat we must remember that an injury to one is an injury to all.

7:00am Wed 19th October
Balfour Beatty
Blackfriars Station construction project