GMB calls for crackdown on anti-fracking activists

GMB flagThe GMB has joined with the business community in calling for the rights of those working in the emerging shale gas industry to be protected whilst respecting the rights to peaceful protest.

The GMB, along with the Chamber of Commerce, has written to political leaders asking them to make sure police and judiciary take a firm line with protestors that target shale gas suppliers.

A national activist network recently announced two weeks of direct action against companies working in the shale gas supply chain, aimed at pressuring them to drop contracts.

Their plan follows weeks of harassment and intimidation already taking place against businesses including their workers supplying the Cuadrilla site in Lancashire.

Since the start of the year, a handful of companies supplying the Cuadrilla site have been pressured by activists into withdrawing from contracts, including a ready mixed concrete supplier in St Annes whose facility was blockaded by a group wearing hoods and masks.

They prevented the business not only from making deliveries to Cuadrilla, but also disrupted supplies to other unconnected customers.

The targeting of supply chain companies like this is reminiscent of tactics used by animal rights extremists.

GMB national officer Stuart Fegan said: “Nobody should deny people’s right to lawful and peaceful protest but, equally, protestors should not be allowed to prevent workers from getting to and from their jobs just because they disagree that the workers employer has decided to legally explore the opportunities that the new onshore shale gas industry brings.”

Chief executive of the North and Western Lancashire Chamber of Commerce Babs Murphy said: “Over 800 businesses, mostly from Lancashire, have expressed an interest in supplying and servicing the shale gas industry, having registered with our dedicated online portal.

“They deserve the chance to be part of this exciting new industry without fearing that they will be targeted with some sort of retaliation, be that physical blockades by protestors or reputationally damaging and distressing comments posted on social media.

“Whilst we agree that protestors should have their fundamental rights to peaceful and lawful protest protected, we believe that our police and judiciary must act to ensure that the rights of companies to go about their lawful business are similarly safeguarded, and are calling on our elected representatives to help make sure that’s the case.”

In addition to the North & Western Lancashire Chamber of Commerce, the letter has been signed by the East Lancashire Chamber of Commerce, Downtown in Business, the Civil Engineering Contractors Association, IoD Lancashire, FSB Cumbria and Lancashire, the Community union and GMB Union.

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