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   Vol. 70/No. 3           January 23, 2006  
On the Picket Line
London: construction workers
stage walkouts for better pay

LONDON—Construction workers employed by one of the major firms building a fifth terminal at Heathrow Airport here have staged two one-day walkouts in December over bonus pay. The strikers, employed by the Laing O’ Rourke construction company, are members of the Transport and General Workers’ Union (TGWU), General Municipal Boilermakers Allied Trades Union (GMB) and Union of Construction, Allied Trades and Technicians (UCATT).

The workers mounted pickets at six sites across the airport. They are demanding a 1 per hour guaranteed bonus, backdated to May 2005, and plan further walkouts January 20 and 23. “When I signed on I was told that we’d get 5 an hour bonus, but we’ve received no bonus at all for months,” said Lee Holland, one of the picketers.

Darren Egan, a steel fixer also on the picket line, said that recent successful union action by steel erectors employed by another airport company, Watson Steel, had given them confidence. Egan reported that Portuguese workers at the site were threatened with being sacked first if they joined the strike action. He described this as part of the company’s “divide and rule” policy.

TGWU and GMB senior steward Andy Baldwin said the “strikers are strong and united across nationality.”

—Alex Xezonakis  
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