acknoledgements to Darrell
CWU members launched three days of strike action against Romec's attempt to impose Dickensian conditions with a picket of Parliament today. Workers employed at Portcullis House in Westminster picketed the building inprotest at Romec's unilateral action to impose fixed shift work spans of 6 to 22.00 from Monday to Saturday with no unsocial hour's payment. Attendance times are to be decided by local managers and refusal to abide bythe new rules can lead to dismissal. The company are also seeking to scrap current travel arrangements which would see paid working only commencing when an individual arrives at thesite of the job.
"This means some of our members are having to leave home at2 or 3 am in the morning to get to the first job," said Steve Jones, an NEC member, who sees the action as a direct attack on the right of the union tonegotiate on behalf of its members. "If the Romec management get away withthis the union won't be able to negotiate. It is a direct attack on the union's right to effectively represent its members."
The Romec contract in Parliament involves maintenance, installation, dealing with faults, heating, lighting and air conditioning. Michael Walker, who has worked in Parliament for seven years, believes that the new conditions will mean many members won't see their children during the week.
"There is Saturday working and working until 10pm at night," said Michael. "It is like going back to Dickensian times when workers lined up for a days work." Roy Wendorne, who works at Mount Pleasant, told how the number of engineerscovering London had been whittled away by management. "Now we only have oneperson on a shift at Mount Pleasant and they can be called out to south oreast London," said Roy.
Cyril Onyejekwe, the regional rep for Romec in the South East, believes that Romec's proposals with the anti-social hours make a farce of any commitment to providing a work life balance. "This is a big challenge to the authorityof the CWU and we must win," said Cyril.Peter Joyce, who has worked in Parliament for the past six years, has beenstruck by the audacity of Romec in acting to effectively tear up a Joint Industrial Board Agreement.
"I've worked on projects like the Channel Tunneland Jubilee Line and the employer has never acted in this way. This amounts to ripping up the agreement. It is a back to year zero approach being driven by the minority shareholder Haydens," said Peter. "This is a nationally co-ordinated policy that must be opposed and defeated."