Sellafield Workers Join Wildcat Strikes

Hundreds of contract workers at a nuclear site have walked out in support of protests over the use of foreign labour.

The wildcat strikes, which broke out last week over an oil refinerys use of foreign staff, today continued to spread as around 900 workers at Sellafield and 300 contractors at Heysham walked out.

Other strikes are expected to spread across the country, in planned "sympathy strikes".

Last week demonstrators gathered at Lindsey Oil Refinery following a decision to bring hundreds of Italian and Portuguese contractors to work on the new £200 million plant at North Killingholme.

It is understood 100 Italian and Portuguese workers are on site and are expected to be joined by 300 more next month.

Unions have argued British staff should be doing the work.

Total, the company which owns the Lindsey Oil site, has insisted it is not discriminating against British workers.

Total said in a statement: "We operate, and will continue to operate, under UK domestic law and the common European rules which apply to UK companies operating elsewhere in Europe and European companies operating in the UK."

Prime Minister Gordon Brown has been accused of further "inflaming" the already escalating row, by condemning the unofficial strikes as "indefensible".

Striker and 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 far crack of the whip at getting them.

"The jobs down the country were given to foreign workers without giving Great British workers the chance to bid for them. This has nothing to do with stopping people coming here; it's just about greater transparency."

The wildcat strikes began after the Italian company IREM won a £200 million construction contract and supplied its own permanent workforce.

Last 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.

See: Hundreds Walk Out As Refinery Dispute Escalates


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