Energy wildcats continue to spread across the UK

Police stand by as workers protest

The wave of wildcat strike action that has swept across the UK escalated today as hundreds more workers walked out in the protest at the exclusion of British workers from jobs.

Contract workers from the Sellafield nuclear site in Cumbria, the Heysham nuclear power station in Lancashire and a site at Staythorpe, in Nottinghamshire, joined the unofficial action over the hiring of Italian and Portuguese workers, which local unemployed British workers were unable to apply for on a Lincolnshire power station project.

Workers from the Longannet power station in Scotland joined those at the Grangemouth oil refinery, who voted to continue their strike, while 200 employees at Fiddlers Ferry power station in Widnes, Cheshire, also walked out this morning.

In west Wales, up to 500 contractors at the South Hook LNG gas terminal in Milford Haven downed tools for a second day. Many of the strikers took part in a similar protest on Friday. Around 150 contract workers at Aberthaw power station, in south Wales, also walked out.

Outside the Lindsey oil refinery in Killingholme, Lincolnshire, where the protests began, more than 1,000 demonstrators gathered for a mass meeting, voting unanimously to allow union officials to start talks with management.

Gordon Brown said the unofficial strikes sweeping the country were "counter-productive". Speaking at a joint press conference, Brown said his priority was to promote the jobs of British workers in the face of the current recession.

About 600 mechanical contractors met at the Sellafield site's Yottenfews car park at 7.30am to agree a 24-hour walkout in support of the Lindsey action.

One of the strikers, the GMB convener Willie Doggert, said: "All we want is a level playing field. It's not just about foreign workers. We need jobs to be advertised with transparency so that everybody gets a fair crack of the whip at getting them."

A similar row has been raging at Staythorpe for months and several demonstrations have been held to protest that UK workers were being overlooked in favour of foreign staff. Around 700 contractors at the Grangemouth oil refinery in central Scotland walked out again today after unofficial action on Friday. They decided they would return to work tomorrow.

Total said talks would be held today with the conciliation service Acas, senior union representatives and Jacobs, the main contractor at Lindsey.

The wildcat action began after the Italian company IREM won a £200m construction contract and supplied its own permanent workforce. It is understood 100 Italian and Portuguese workers are already on site and 300 more are expected in the coming days and weeks. On Friday, up to 3,000 workers from at least 11 oil refineries and power plants in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland mounted protests and unofficial strikes over the contract.

Mass meetings
The wildcat strikes have been organised by huge mass meetings of strikers involved. At the Grangemouth oil refinery, about 500 contractors, who took unofficial action on Friday, walked out again today (Monday 2nd Feb) following a mass meeting.

About 400 workers at Longannet, in Fife, have voted to stay out on strike for 24 hours and return to hold another mass meeting at 7:30am on tomorrow (Tuesday 3rd). About 130 at Scottish Power's Cockenzie Power Station are also taking part in the action, along with 80 contractors at ExxonMobil's petrochemicals plant in Mossmorran and 150 workers at the Shell plant.

Last Friday saw over 1,400 workers take wildcat action across Scotland, in solidarity with those at the Lindsey Oil Refinery.

The strike committee of the LOR agreed the following demands, which were ratified by a mass meeting:
- No victimisation of workers taking solidarity action.
- All workers in UK to be covered by NAECI Agreement.
- Union controlled registering of unemployed and locally skilled union members, with nominating rights as work becomes available.
- Government and employer investment in proper training / apprenticeships for new generation of construction workers - fight for a future for young people.
- All Immigrant labour to be unionised.
- Trade Union assistance for immigrant workers - including interpreters - and access to Trade Union advice - to promote active integrated Trade Union Members.
- Build links with construction trade unions on the continent.

Comments

oisleep
Feb 3 2009 17:23

some of the reporting on this is mental

opening line
600 WORKERS have walked out in a wildcat strike at Langage Power Station in protest at the use of foreign workers.

few lines later
Mr Pickford said workers had walked out in “general sympathy with what’s happening in the construction industry,” where British workers were being excluded from applying for jobs by foreign subcontractors.

He said: “All the Polish workers have walked out as well, because this is not an issue against foreign workers.

Choccy
Feb 3 2009 17:57

Hahahha not even attempting to read their own shit.

davidbroder
Feb 3 2009 18:17

But nonetheless, it is quite significant, isn't it, that Polish workers have joined the strike?
http://thecommune.wordpress.com/2009/02/03/hundreds-of-polish-workers-join-wildcat-strikes/

I know the Italian CGIL has come out against the strikes - but surely there's a case to be made they should be blacking work to these employers (to the extent that the Italian workers are unionised)...

Ex-temp
Feb 3 2009 19:07

Yes, it's very significant.

I've just updated the article above quickly, because I think it fell into the mainstream media trap of presenting the strikes as protests against foreigners.

Django
Feb 3 2009 23:39

http://link.brightcove.com/services/player/bcpid1184614595?bctid=9823457001

Video of the BNP regional organiser getting booted off the picket lines by workers at LOR.

Django
Feb 4 2009 10:03

From the Guardian article on the possible resolution of the dispute:

Quote:
Around 500 demonstrators stood in front of the huge North Lincolnshire site, with more expected to join them throughout the morning.

One worker said that they were waiting to hear from the strike committee before they knew whether reports about a resolution to the dispute were true.

At one point the protesters gathered in a nearby car park to listen as a representative asked them to be patient.

Standing on the back of a flatbed truck, he said they had been in talks until 8.30pm last night.

Other demonstrators held up cardboard signs reading "Workers of the world unite" and claiming that foreign workers at other sites were joining the strike in solidarity
.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2009/feb/04/strikes-unions