On the Picket Line

Steel scaffolders strike continues in UK over wages, scabs, safety

By Pete Clifford
December 20, 2021

SCUNTHORPE, England — “We’re staying out for a result,” striker Dave Birchall told the Militant on the picket line outside the massive British Steel plant here. Sixty scaffolders organized by the Unite union are now into their third month of strike action.

Sharon Graham, Unite union general secretary, joined the pickets Dec. 1. They’re demanding contractor Actavo pay them the national rate for their job of 17 pounds an hour ($22.50), as opposed to their current wages of some 2 pounds less.

In a picket line interview with the BBC, Graham said, “British Steel is blaming Actavo. Actavo is blaming British Steel. In the middle are workers fighting for their livelihoods.”

Strikers report that a strikebreaking outfit, ironically calling itself Rope Access Trade Solutions — RATS — has been called in to work on scaffolding there.

Support for the strikers is growing. Oil refinery workers from Stanlow near Liverpool sent 2,500 pounds from a shop floor collection, and Unite union construction workers from the Republic of Ireland sent 1,000 euros ($1,125). This reporter met Michael Kermenglou on the picket line, from the ‘Scaffolders Club’ of the 3F union in Denmark.

Send your support to unitedscaffs@gmail.com or Scaffolders strike, c/o Unite union, 55 Call Lane, Leeds LS1 7BW, England.