The struggle for the right to work in our own country continues, this time in the southwestern corner of Wales in Pembrokeshire.
There have been three demonstrations there since the last issue of Workers, with varying degrees of success. There has also been the Facebook campaign, an online petition and much letter writing to those in positions of power.
The result has been that Alstom, the French multinational main contractor, has yet again (the same approach was taken at Staythorpe, Uskmouth and LOR, Lindsey Oil Refinery) gone public with some dissembling. It claimed that the vast majority of work is being carried out by British workers, the same is claimed for Pembroke.
This is not a lie, but it is dissembling. What is not said is that it is the engineering workers to whom they refer. But it is a lie when it comes to the skilled engineering construction workers, the ones who actually build the power station, not those who prepare the ground upon which it will be built.
The dissembling was oft repeated by the local Labour MP, Nick Ainger, and others, telling the campaigners that they were “misguided”, that their petitions were wrong and should be removed due to their inaccuracy.
On 17 March this MP was embarrassed into a complete volte face. He finally admitted that the campaigners were right all along and had complained to the Welsh Secretary about how they were being misled. Further, he was demanding that Alstom reveal who has the sub-contracts and that they be forced to advertise in the local job centres – something hitherto they have been singularly refusing to do.
But with an election in the offing, workers are right to be sceptical. Words are cheap, promises are given, lies are told, people are elected and nothing happens – no change there then! As one close to the protests said of Labour, “They can illegally invade a country or two and break every UN law, but refuse to break EU laws in favour of their own people.”
The protests will continue and it is to be hoped will grow and bear fruit, but what is really needed is for the industry to stand up for itself again. LOR showed the way and it was a lead that was followed. It is not good enough for the industry to remain silent apart from some well wishing – it won't produce the goods. Power lies in the workplace and on site. When the job currently being worked finishes, what then if Pembroke is allowed to go the same way as Staythorpe or worse Uskmouth, mainly built by foreign workers?