London Indymedia

Laing O'Rourke Workers Solidarity Action

w | 22.11.2004 06:10 | Social Struggles | London

Workers Solidarity Against Bosses Profits

Several cranes have been occupied on the Laing O'Rourke Kings Cross Rail Link construction site, in solidarity with workers on the site who are fighting a new pay deal.

Laing O'Rourke Workers Solidarity Action
King's Cross Rail Link, 22nd November 2004

Workers Solidarity Against Bosses Profits

Several cranes have been occupied on the Laing O'Rourke Kings Cross Rail Link construction site, in solidarity with workers on the site who are fighting a new pay deal.

Why we're up there

We're acting in solidarity with construction workers on the Laing O'Rourke Channel Tunnel Rail Link site in King's Cross, who are being forced into signing an exploitative new contract by their bosses. In response to this threat, they have begun to organise themselves without the help of union leaders. They have held mass meetings off-site, elected shop stewards and organised pickets and sit-ins.

"We demand no cut in pay. We all have bills, rent, mortgages to pay - we need guaranteed money not a promise of it if the site agent thinks we deserve it," says (a worker) Laing workers want no discretionary bonus scheme, they want full holiday pay and sick pay, a pension scheme, redundancy pay and no forced overtime.

New contract, old con tricks

Under the new contract pay will be cut in half, management will decide bonuses, workers must plan a day off 40 days in advance and holiday pay could be cut by £20 per day. Some employees have been forced to sign the contract after being threatened with the sack if they refuse. Others, who barely speak English, have been pushed into signing a contract they do not understand.

Construction union UCATT sold out workers on the site by agreeing to the contract without consulting them. GMB - another union that one-third of the workers belong to -was barred from the site in a breach of construction industry agreements. GMB was only admitted after workers staged there own direct action by sitting in on the site to allow them access.


Workers at all Laing O'Rourke sites - including Canary Wharf, Heathrow's Terminal 5, Newham Hospital and sites in Birmingham and Liverpool - are faced with this new contract and potentially face the sack if they refuse to sign. If Laing O'Rourke get away with implementing these contracts, it will have huge implications for all construction workers - driving down wages and imposing conditions that put workers at greater risk. They fear that production bonuses and forced overtime will lead to a faster work pace, cut corners and exhaustion, with health and safety likely to suffer.

In recent years, the building industry has been using a huge amount of subcontracted, casual labour. Many construction workers have seen an erosion of rights, job security and benefits as a result. A decline in safety standards has led to more deaths at work, with over a 100 deaths per year in the industry, and managements refusing to take responsibility - exemplified by the case of Simon Jones, a young temp worker sent to a job on the Brighton docks without any training. He died in an accident on his first day at work.

Double-Crossed in Kings Cross?

Local residents recently won a court order forbidding Channel Tunnel Rail development work 24 hours a day due to the noise and disruption it would cause. This is likely to cause a delay in work costing the contractors millions of pounds. Laing O'Rourke intends to claw back their massive profits by cutting workers wages.

However, noise is only one problem faced by local residents. Since the 1980's local people have been resisting the development, fearing the destruction it would cause to their community. The Kings Cross Rail Link has already cost the area social housing - many council and housing association flats were pulled down to make way for the development. There is now a seven-year waiting list for council flats in the area. Most new private housing will be expensive and far beyond the reach of local people. The 20-year construction programme will lead to the area's gentrification. The jobs such 'regeneration' will create are likely to be part-time/temp jobs in shopping malls and other services - poorly-paid casual work for people who will no longer be able to afford to live in the newly desirable area.

Flexibly Fucked Over

What's happening in the construction industry is part of a wider change in the nature of work - and in our lives. There has been a shift from 'jobs-for-life' backed up by unions, public housing and a welfare state, to a condition of precarity. Precarity is characterised by casual, temporary, agency, part-time, freelance, 'flexible' work - mainly in the service, construction, communications and information industries - badly paid and with little security. Our situations have all become dominated by insecurities and fear, undermining our abilitiies to organise and think for ourselves. This fear is the weapon of the multi-nationals, states and armies that walk this earth causing misery to billions of people in pursuit of more power and control.

Solidarity is our weapon

Our action here is an act of defiance against Laing O'Rourke, a show of solidarity for all those being fucked over by there managers, supervisors and bosses. We are joining them in their self-organised struggle for a living wage. We also fight back against our own situation of precarity, inside and outside of work, in London and across the world.

For updates, keep posted to

For background information see the following articles on

Also see:

- e-mail:
- Homepage:


Display the following 3 comments

  1. Kings Cross Update — update
  2. URGENT - Health and Safety Violations + Anti-terror searches — update


South Coast

Other UK IMCs
Bristol/South West
Northern Indymedia

London Topics

Animal Liberation
Climate Chaos
Energy Crisis
Free Spaces
Ocean Defence
Other Press
Public sector cuts
Social Struggles
Terror War
Workers' Movements

London IMC


About | Contact
Mission Statement
Editorial Guidelines
Publish | Help

Search :