First, at Lindsay Oil Refinery an unofficial strike is ongoing as it’s revealed the Engineering Construction Industry Association, the employers’ organisation, is trying to stop a ballot of construction workers for a national strike:
A confidential letter obtained by the Morning Star, sent to by ECIA employment relations officers to bosses at construction firms throughout Britain, brazenly states that “it is in employer’s interests to not act in a way which aids and abets the unions to run a successful ballot.”
The letter continues: “Don’t give names and addresses of your workforce to the unions or shop stewards. Don’t allow full-time officers access to your workforce – unless their intentions are made clear in advance and they are not related to the ballot.”
GMB legal officer Maria Ludkin lost no time in slamming the letter as “one of the most blatant attempts to interfere in an industrial action ballot that I’ve ever seen.”
“The employers’ letter also states that the ECIA ‘will closely monitor the legality of the strike ballot,’ so there is no doubt what their intentions are.”
“But the advice that the ECIA is giving to its members is clearly illegal under the 1999 Employment Relations Act,” she said.
“No employer can deny unions the right to consult with their members and should any construction worker or union rep encounter this kind of obstruction, the GMB will definitely take action,” Ms Ludkin insisted.
Second, James Tweedie reports for the Morning Star on the shocking raid at SOAS:
Students have occupied the School of Oriental and African Studies in London in support of detained and deported cleaning staff.
Nine migrant workers were arrested on Friday at a meeting called by transnational cleaning contractor ISS. Five were deported to their home countries over the weekend and the rest face deportation within days.
One of the detained cleaners said: “We’re honest people, not animals. We are just here to earn an honest living for our families. SOAS management are being unfair.”
The staff were called to the meeting to discuss shift times, sick leave and immigration papers. Staff said that immigration officers had been waiting for them at the venue.
They said that staff were locked in the room for hours and refused water, medical attention or access to their trade union representative.
The arrests came on the heels of a recent victory by cleaning staff organised by public sector union UNISON, in winning a wage rise and four of those detained are members.
The cleaners recently took strike action on May 28 to protest at the sacking of SOAS UNISON branch chairman Jose Stalin Bermudez.
Cleaners and protesters accused the university of collusion with immigration authorities and of victimising the workers taking industrial action.
Graham Dyer, lecturer in Economics of Developing Countries and Universities and Colleges Union SOAS branch chairman, said: “Our fight has united lecturers, staff and students and has rocked SOAS management. Those managers are now lashing out.
“It is a disgrace that SOAS management saw fit to use a seat of learning to intimidate migrant workers. This is their underhand revenge.”
Labour MP John McDonnell said: “The message is that they are happy to employ migrant labour on poverty wages but, if you complain, they will send you back home. It is shameful.”