04/03/2009 - Build the boycott of Total

The wildcat dispute at the Total oil refinery in Lindsey needs to be understood in broader terms than a dispute at a particular site. As Labour MP Jon Cruddas has stated:-

"Britain has lost control of key industries and their labour procurement procedures. The Lincolnshire dispute is a small symptom of a big problem. Britain is a country that no longer owns the productive processes that create its wealth. Crucial economic sectors have been handed over to unaccountable foreign ownership. The government has abandoned workers to exploitation, more concerned with making them fit the global market than in protecting their interests. In Labour’s working-class heartlands there is a powerful feeling of being dispossessed."

Recent court rulings have alarmed many Trade Unionists because they make it easier for employers to deregulate labour markets.

Jon Cruddas points out:-

"In 2003 the Finnish ferry company Viking Line reflagged its vessel and employed an Estonian crew, cutting its wage costs by 60%. Its actions were upheld by the European court of justice. In 2004 a Latvian company, Laval, sent workers to building sites in Sweden. The Swedish construction union asked the company to agree to the existing collective agreement within the building sector. It refused, operating instead under the Latvian agreement - including lower pay that undercut the Swedish workers’ wages. Again, the court ruled in the company’s favour. Workers’ conditions and pay need only comply with the laws of the company’s home country."

Of course, Cruddas is partly motivated by fear of losing his seat in Parliament but that does not make his words any less true.

Gordon Brown, when chancellor in 2007, promised “British job for British workers” - the wildcats have not forgotten this. The slogan has come back to haunt No10: while Gordon Brown tells his audience at Davos that “protectionism protects nobody”, a Downing Street spokesman has the thankless task of maintaining that the prime minister has no cause to regret his earlier words.

The original strike at the Lindsey refinery quickly led to a spate of sympathy strikes across the UK. It was criticised for being “xenophobic” by business secretary Lord Mandelson. In fact all British workers from all backgrounds are disadvantaged by unfair competition.

It is no shock that British workers are angry about all this. We face a severe recession yet bosses are allowed to offshore our jobs and undermine them with cheap labour. Establishment Unions are muted by their entanglement with the Labour Party. British workers lack direction and leadership. Many workers outside the industries directly affected would like to show support but the Tory Trade Union laws kept on the books by NuLab bind their hands. As consumers and citizens we can make our voices heard effectively, however.

We should use our power as consumers to boycott Total till it fully reverses its anti-British policies. Boycotts are unquestionably legal under the common law. The right to engage in commerce, social intercourse, and friendship implies the right not to engage in commerce, social intercourse, and friendship; since a boycott is voluntary and nonviolent, the law cannot stop it. Let's use the Internet, a viral campaign and traditional campaigning methods to spread the consumer boycott. I suggest that supporters send the following text message to their address book:- "Boycott Total petrol stations - British Jobs for British Workers. Solidarity Trade Union"( )". Add the same message to your E-mail signature. Spread the word on forums and newsgroups too.

Our President, Adam Walker, has given you an example of the kind of picket that should be organised at your local Total filling station.

Get together with your mates and go down to your local Total station. E-mail us at [email protected] or ring Adam on 07713411198 if you want supplies of our wildcat leaflets or other material.

Alternatively download our Wildcat leaflet here:-

Don't forget to send us pictures and videos of your protest.

As citizens we need to press for changes in the law to prevent unfair foreign competition. Sign our British Jobs for British Wokers petition.

We also need to press for laws calls on the Government to initiate effective reform of the EU Posted Workers Directive so that employers posting workers to the UK are required to observe the terms of appropriate collective agreements as well as minimum terms laid down in statute.

Let's get busy and use our power as consumers to punish companies that adopt policies discriminating against British workers. Let's use our power as citizens to press for changes in law to ensure that unfair foreign competition is outlawed.