Gun-toting coppers fail to intimidate Sita protests
WORKERS whose demos against the “social dumping” of labour have been met with gun-toting bobbies yesterday defied police intimidation to ramp up their protest.
Waste giant Sita busses in workers daily from Wolverhampton and has drafted in workers from eastern Europe to construct a new power station and waste reprocessing site in Redcar.
At a demonstration last Friday eyewitnesses reported that police officers wielding pistols grabbed a 67-year-old scaffolder and threw him to the ground.
Cleveland Police has said that standard traffic patrols in the district are armed and that officers were deployed on the basis of availability.
And yesterday, demonstrators said officers were not wearing their identification numbers on their epaulettes. Cleveland Police told the Star there had been “no conscious intention” to hide numbers.
The new workers have been employed on significantly less than rates agreed with unions and local labourers have reportedly been denied work on the site.
Protest organiser Tommy Jones told the Star: “We had a protest on all the gates. We want letters of declaration from the companies, to say they’ll pay the negotiated rates, we want [union reps to have] access to the workforce, we want independent interpreters [to speak to workers who don’t speak English].”
He said bosses had manipulated figures about the proportion of local labour by including cleaning staff in statistics on construction workers.
Sita has been awarded a £1.2 billion contract by the Merseyside Waste Authority. Its new plant on the Wilton International chemical site in Redcar will burn 470,000 tons of rubbish a year to produce electricity for 63,000 homes.
“They’re putting in foreign labour, and we’ve got nothing against the foreign labour, all it is is the rates,” Mr Jones said.
“Our guys are paid £16.10 an hour. [Some of the people brought in] are being paid £2,000 a month, and they take £600 off that for accommodation.
“They’re taking that off them, and putting six or seven to a house.”
The workers, backed by unions Unite, GMB and Ucatt, are set to stage another demo next week.