Tuesday, 23 June 2009

Why we should support the Lindsey strikers

After the sacking of 647 workers at the Lindsey oil refinery the industrial action continues. Many workers showed their defiance by burning their dismissal notices. It is estimated that another 4000 workers have gone out on strike around the country in support, including workers at Sellafield. There is absolutely no way that Total and its contractors could have got away with treating workers like this in France, or Germany. This is good old fashioned union busting.

The fact that the strike is 'illegal' means nothing. These workers voted with their feet - they walked out. Who needs a ballot to do that? The Thatcherite labour laws were brought in to hobble trade unions and weaken workers power. That is class war - pure and simple. Of course there will be people who will say you must have a ballot and I agree that there should be a ballot - if workers want one. The whole purpose of the ballot in Thatcherite trade union legislation is not to make things fairer but to tie up the union in bureaucracy and expense and prevent them from taking spontaneous action like that at Lindsey.

In the Lindsey case it remains to be seen if wildcat action was the right tactic. Much will depend upon support from other sectors, and there is still the possibility of a national strike ballot. All workers should support the Lindsey strikers. The Visteon workers showed that it is still possible to win disputes even in the most difficult of circumstances. We will need workers to show more strength and solidarity in the months to come because they are are going to be made to pay for the bailout of the fat cat bankers with their wages, conditions and jobs.

Update: Well. It looks like wildcat strike action proved to be the right tactic for the Lindsey workers. They have secured jobs for the original 51 workers who were laid off and the 647 who were sacked.

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