Tupe sackings

THE Building Worker Group has exposed the private contractors, Botes, for twice refusing to implement Transfer of Employment (Tupe) regulations and for employing no direct workers. Despite this Southwark Labour council awarded them its contracts and proceeded to transfer workers under Tupe.

John Jones, Southwark shop steward and one of those to be transfered, had an official meeting with Botes to find out their plans. No union official turned up. It was obvious to John and another member of the building workers’ union, Ucatt, that Botes were not capable of implementing the terms and conditions as per the Tupe regulations. Botes also stated that they did not recognise the union.

Workers to be transfered received a letter with a contract of employment and half-baked pension scheme, neither of which were remotely as good as those enjoyed by Southwark DLO building workers and were clearly in breach of the Tupe regulations.

At a mass meeting of DLO workers, unelected union organisers, Dominic Hehir (Ucatt) and J Rouse (TGWU) stated that Botes had made some amendments to their original terms (but not nearly enough for any sound thinking trade unionist). They told the seven workers being transfered to accept, adding, ‘If you don’t accept it, they will sack you.’

After a meeting five workers, against their will, agreed to go. John Jones and Terry Mason refused. That evening the council delivered letters by courier to the seven workers telling them to report to Botes the next morning or they would have sacked themselves.

The union officials have supported Southwark council in victimising these workers. The council is actually advertising for workers to replace those victimised - trade unionists need not apply.

Considering all that has happened John Jones and Terry Mason have decided to take a stand. This is a brave decision which demands support. Tony O’Brien, convenor/steward for Ucatt and also national secretary of the Construction and Safety Campaign, has disgracefully refused to support their appeals.

Picket lines are organised every morning and the other five workers are reluctantly going to work after coercion from Tony O’Brien who has actually stood on the picket line and shouted at lorry drivers to cross. Nevertheless 90% of lorries are turning back.

The Building Worker Group is calling on all workers and trade unionists to support the demands for the council to sack Botes and reinstate John Jones and Terry Mason. Come to the picket line and take up a collection in your unions and workplaces.

Other DLO building workers are asked to consider solidarity action. An injury to one is an injury to all.

Linda Addison