Wildcat strikes over migrant workers in energy sector to continue despite high-level opposition

Wildcat strikes in support of protests over the use of foreign labour show no sign of ending, despite the adverse weather conditions and warnings from the government that they are “counter-productive”.

About 400 workers at Longannet power station in Fife, Scotland, have voted to continue with a walkout over the use of foreign contractors. The unofficial action comes as conciliation Acas was called in to resolve the dispute at he Lindsey oil plant in Lincolnshire who walked out over moves to hire Italian staff on a new £200m plant.

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.

The Longannet workers have agreed to continue their unofficial action until at least Friday this week. About 500 protesting contractors at Grangemouth are due to return to work, however, according to the BBC.

Thousands of workers across the UK walked out last week in a series of unofficial strikes in a show of solidarity with employees protesting at the use of Italian and Portuguese labour at the Lindsey refinery. Last year the prime minister had promised “British jobs for British workers”.

French oil company Total, which owns 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.

Speaking in the House of Lords, he added: “We should keep our sights set firmly not on the politics of xenophobia but on the economics of this recession.”

Gordon Brown said the strikes were “counter productive” yesterday. He added that Total, which runs the Lincolnshire refinery, had repeated it was not discriminating against British workers.

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