Foreign worker row could lead to jobs for Brits as Acas strikes deal with unions

More than 100 new jobs for British workers could be created at the Lindsey Oil Refinery in Lincolnshire, bringing an end to the walkout at the plant over the use of foreign labour and the wildcat strikes that have spread across the UK’s energy sector.

Following talks with conciliation service Acas, national union officers will be recommending a proposal to create 101 new jobs – strictly for British workers – to Lindsey contractors and employees tomorrow (Thursday).

The company awarded a £200m contract to an Italian company Irem, which hired Italian and Portuguese staff to carry out the job – contradicting prime minister Gordon Brown’s pledge last year to find “British jobs for British workers”.

The copycat walkouts have been largely confined to the energy sector, and include hundreds of workers at the petrochemical/gas plant at Mossmorran, and the nuclear plants at Sellafield and Heysham. Workers who walked out at the Longannet power station in Fife vowed to continue their unofficial action until at least Friday this week, unless action was taken.

However, French oil company Total, which runs the Lindsey site, has insisted it is not discriminating against British workers.

Business secretary Lord Mandelson had urged workers to call off the strike, saying that under EU law companies had the right to subcontract work to those companies “best suited” for the job.

Acas is currently establishing the facts surrounding the Irem contract arrangements, including the tendering process at the Lindsey refinery, and its is expected to publish a report on the dispute, which will include the current legal context of contracting practices in the UK by the middle of February.

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