Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page:

From The Socialist newspaper, 22 August 2012

Builders plan to stop 'Besna 2' at Crown House

Rob Williams

On 17 August at a protest outside the Crown House site in St Pancras, London, a campaign was launched by Unite and the Sparks rank and file. This was against any attempt by construction company Crown House to bring in a new version of Besna, the bosses' attempts to break the national agreement and slash wages by 35%. Suspicions have been raised ever since Crown House left the JIB in the aftermath of the historic defeat of the 'Dirty 7' big construction electrical contractors. And it appears that Crown House are trying to force their workforce to sign new contracts, in order that the company "remains competitive", so the campaign against this is urgent.

The national rank and file meeting on 11 August drew up a balance sheet of the incredible events of the last 12 months. A year ago, the Sparks (electricians, pipe-fitters and plumbers in the construction industry) were looking down the barrel at the Besna with the union officials dragging their feet. The last couple of decades of the bosses' offensive and the apparent weakening of union organisation from the top down were all coming together - with the workers paying the price.

The bosses must have been supremely confident that the JIB terms and conditions would have been ripped up, opening the way to ever more profits. But they didn't count on a rank and file organisation mobilising ordinary sparks.

There was a marathon national campaign of protests and unofficial walkouts that pushed Unite into committing fully to this dispute. The result was an effective leverage campaign and what in the end proved decisive - a successful official strike ballot in Balfour Beatty which raised the prospect of a national stoppage, starting in the Grangemouth Oil Refinery.

This victory has undoubtedly given a boost of confidence to Sparks with unofficial stoppages around the country including the 1,600 that walked out at Ratcliffe to get safety steward Jay Poulter reinstated. But to protect their profits, the bosses are always looking to grab back what they've lost. Jay has been laid off and Crown House are trying to break the agreement through the back door.

But we have to take confidence from the victories of the last 12 months and the union now being firmly involved. One of the unofficial stoppages of the last few months actually came at the Crown House job in Heathrow. We beat the Besna and we can win again now.

If Crown House don't back down, as soon as the union organisation is strong enough, the union should ballot for strike action. This must be backed up by national action across the industry and unofficial if necessary, mobilising rank and file construction workers.

Forcing Crown House back would send the strongest signal to any other companies planning to follow suit that not only will sparks fight again and again to defend their contracts but that all the other grievances such as agency work and blacklisting have to be dealt with. Victory to the Sparks...again!

Donate to the Socialist Party

Finance appeal

The coronavirus crisis has laid bare the class character of society in numerous ways. It is making clear to many that it is the working class that keeps society running, not the CEOs of major corporations.

The results of austerity have been graphically demonstrated as public services strain to cope with the crisis.

  • The Socialist Party's material is more vital than ever, so we can continue to report from workers who are fighting for better health and safety measures, against layoffs, for adequate staffing levels, etc.
  • We must be ready for the stormy events ahead and the need to arm workers' movements with a socialist programme - one which puts the health and needs of humanity before the profits of a few.
Inevitably, during the crisis we have not been able to sell the Socialist and raise funds in the ways we normally would.
We therefore urgently appeal to all our viewers to donate to our Fighting Fund.

Please donate here.

All payments are made through a secure server.

My donation


Your message: 


In The Socialist 22 August 2012:

International socialist news and analysis

Support South African miners

National Shop Stewards Network

Lobby the TUC on 9 September: Demand a 24-hour strike against austerity

Socialist Party Readers' Comments

Zero-hour contracts mean zero rights

Scrounger? The truth about living on the dole

Tottenham: a year since the riots

Socialist Party news and analysis

Fare rises and rail cuts: Kick the fat cats off our railways!

NHS: Dewsbury mass meeting opposes PFI

Another News of the World perjury charge

Doors close after A-level results

Justice for Kingsley Burrell!


WikiLeaks and Assange: No extradition to the USA

Shafilia Ahmed murder: A question of women's rights

Tommy Walker - tribute to a working class fighter

Them & Us

Socialist Party workplace news

And the toilet seat medal goes to... Sheffield City Council!

Southampton rebels continue fight against council cuts

Victory for One Housing workers

Draconian sentences for Pussy Riot protest will backfire on Putin

End seafarers' poverty wages

Builders plan to stop 'Besna 2' at Crown House

In Brief: POA rejects pensions offer

Socialist Party feature

Food: Scoffing on profits

The Olympics: Sport for all, or just for the elite?


Home   |   The Socialist 22 August 2012   |   Join the Socialist Party

Subscribe   |   Donate   |   PDF  

Related links:


triangleSparks win victory!

triangleReading, 26.5.21: Standing with the #Sparks blockading #AWE in the fight against de-skilling #No2ESO. NG Bailey & Balfour Beatty must pull away from their deskilling agenda!

triangleReading, 26.5.21: Standing with the #Sparks blockading #AWE in the fight against de-skilling #No2ESO. NG Bailey & Balfour Beatty must pull away from their deskilling agenda!

triangleDeskilling protests by sparks electricians continue

triangleConstruction electricians protesting against de-skilling, outside Balfour Beatty, Canary Wharf, London, on 10.3.21. Photo by Isai Priya


triangleScunny scaffs action forces bosses to the table

triangleJoin the scaffs mass picket at Scunthorpe steelworks

triangleScunthorpe scaffs strike into fifth week

triangleStop press: Sparks walk out


triangleWorkers and students unite and fight

triangleRail workers strike in Sheffield

triangleJust Eat couriers continue action to fight pay cut


triangleLondon Crossrail workers walk out

triangleWorkers' Memorial Day: strike for safety


triangleGateshead: Sacked electricians reinstated

Reports and campaigns

Reports and campaigns



Restore Cardiff's slashed services



Just Eat couriers continue action to fight pay cut



University workers continue strike against bosses' attacks



Tube workers strike in defence of pay, pensions and conditions



Workers and students unite and fight



Fighting fees and marketisation after 2 March student walkout



Brighton Green and Labour cuts - workers and communities fight back



Surrey: Unions and campaigns say stand as an anti-cuts candidate



Newham City Farm - closed with no consultation



London Socialist Party women's meeting



1 March: Socialist Party new website launch



Coventry bin strikers lobby strike-breaking Labour council



Scunny scaffs action forces bosses to the table



Usdaw: 'Reinstate Max' week of action



Trade union support for standing anti-cuts election candidates

triangleMore Reports and campaigns articles...

Join the Socialist Party
Subscribe to Socialist Party publications
Donate to the Socialist Party
Socialist Party Facebook page
Socialist Party on Twitter
Visit us on Youtube



Phone our national office on 020 8988 8777

Email: [email protected]

Locate your nearest Socialist Party branch Text your name and postcode to 07761 818 206

Regional Socialist Party organisers:

Eastern: 079 8202 1969

East Mids: 077 3797 8057

London: 020 8988 8786

North East: 078 4114 4890

North West 079 5437 6096

South West: 077 5979 6478

Southern: 078 3368 1910

Wales: 077 7221 5281

West Mids: 024 7655 5620

Yorkshire: 078 0983 9793



Alphabetical listing

July 2022

June 2022

May 2022

April 2022

March 2022

February 2022

January 2022