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Page added on January 30, 2009

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UK energy workers walk out in foreign jobs row

NORTH KILLINGHOLME, England (Reuters) – British energy workers staged unofficial walkouts on Friday when anger over the use of foreign workers at an oil refinery spread to about a dozen sites across the country.

Contractors at Total’s (TOTF.PA) Lindsey refinery in eastern England began a protest on Wednesday after a project to build a hydro-desulphurisation unit was given to an Italian company, IREM.

Unions say the firm has excluded Britons from the contract and has shipped in workers from abroad instead. They argue that it flies in the face of promises made by Prime Minister Gordon Brown in 2007 to provide “British jobs for British workers”.

Around 1,000 angry contractors, waving placards saying “Put British workers first”, gathered at a car park opposite the oil terminal on Friday for a union meeting.

Britain is facing a rapid rise in unemployment, with almost two million now jobless. The International Monetary Fund forecast this week that the current recession would hit Britain harder than other leading industrialised countries, shrinking its economy by 2.8 percent this year.


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