Total Strike Irony

British Workers Sacked for Striking at French Company Total’s Site – see news report

Joan la Pucelle. [Aside] Done like a Frenchman: turn, and turn again! Shakespeare, History of Henry VI, Part I, Line 1695

"We were left no option. If we have to defend the rights of our men on these sites and our pay and conditions then we have to do that." - sacked contract worker, John McEwanIn Lindsey, Lincs, 650 workers have been sacked for being on an “unofficial” strike (whatever that means in a land of freedom,  fit for heroes).  The actual cause of the strike goes back many months….

Quoting a BBC report:

They had been building an additional plant next to the existing site in Killingholme, but withdrew their labour last week in protest at a sub-contractor axing 51 jobs while another employer on the site was hiring people.

The workers argued this broke an agreement not to cut jobs while there were vacancies elsewhere on the site. Total insists no such agreement was in place.

Workers insist the assurances were given in February following a bitter dispute in which they said foreign labour was being used to exclude British contractors and to undermine hard-won conditions.

My Word is My Bond

Personally, I believe the workers.

The root of the problem is that Total is a French company employing contracted labour on it’s British sites.  And, as we know, a Frenchman’s word is not binding – they’re more like guidelines actually, hence it’s usage in Shakespeare’s play.  An Englishman’s word is supposed to be more binding, but, like the MP signatures at the bottom of their expense claim forms, not as binding as you’d think (more of this in a later post).

This video is their weasely HR bloke, completely fudging the words,

  • official
  • protest
  • picket

..because the people on the gates are PROTESTING not picketting.  The people are former employees making a legal protest. Only employees can legally or illegally picket

Total Strike Irony

The irony of it all is that Total, in France, could never, ever, behave in the way they have done here. French employment and labour laws are much stricter than here in the UK.

The UK Industrial bosses and generally Tory voting management teams will always trumpet the clarion call that “we need flexible working to allow maximum productivity” or words to this effect.

Productivities ComparedThe absolute irony of it all is that productivity in France is much higher than here in the UK.  This is despite the 35 hour week and holidays every fifth week and for every saint’s day etc.

The extra irony is that because the French companies are more productive and thus “fit”, they are more profitable, have more spare cash and thus have bought up virtually every utility in Britain!

It’s just a shame that when Total came here, they employed British managers who run their business in a British, confrontational way.  As Paul Kenny, a union bloke said,

“Total has not even had the decency or courtesy to turn up at the meeting that they themselves arranged. Total is totally without integrity. Bullying and intimidation is not the way to bring about peace.”

Ironic, innit?

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