Mechanical Workers struck and picketed on two construction sites this morning: Pfizer in Grange Castle which TD Gino Kenny visited and Intel in Leixlip, the largest construction site in Ireland.
The impact of the strikers’ pickets was immediate and widespread. Picketers reported that many workers did not report to work and an early morning snowfall assisted. Many others listened to the arguments made by the picketers and at car parks and site entrances and turned around. People Before Profit was on the pickets before dawn and saw workers join the pickets and the union on the day.
Every worker in Ireland has a right to join a picket but two things stop them. The first is not knowing they can privately join as individuals to build a union with other individuals until there’s enough people to start a winning campaign. This technique has worked across many sectors in Ireland. English language teachers and hospitality are two easy examples and both in Unite.
The second and biggest reason is that workers think unions won’t fight or – worse – will work WITH the bosses to keep workers from really organising or winning. Today was a shameful case in point. SIPTU and Connect unions told their members that they were still due in work despite the pickets by their fellow members in Unite. These ‘partnership’ unions should have seen the cost of living crushing their members and looked for a way to fight the bosses so their members could get an above-inflation pay increase. Unions need to fight.
The key issue in this dispute is travel time. Travel costs are now offloaded on mechanical workers by construction company bosses who even in the worst year of the recession were making well over 130 million in profit! They use any trick they can put workers in self-employment or agency work.
These workers are right to fight. And construction workers are long over due for a real fight with construction barons for increases to pay which have quickly behind inflation and increases to the cost of living. Unite officials are lining up more and more members to fight. It’s a breath of fresh air to see the mechanical workers on proudly on pickets and getting support from passe-rbys and co-workers and of course from People Before Profit members and reps like locally like Gino Kenny.
Workers are choosing to fight north and south. Get behind them. Get in your union and demand they fight for higher pay to beat the cost of living.