Let’s be clear, this is not a racist or xenophobic protest – though, no doubt the fascists will try and jump on the bandwagon. The strikers are not motivated by hatred, but by a fear that they might be lose their jobs in the future.
The contention is not that Italian or Portugese nationals living locally should be barred from employment, but that it is crazy that bosses would bring in workers from overseas before first seeking to take on unemployed people who live near the refinery.
These workers should be praised for defying the anti-union laws which criminalise wildcat action, for breaking the law to defend their living standards.
The BBC reports on the growing protests:
Hundreds of energy industry contractors have walked out at sites in northern England and Scotland in an escalating protest over the use of foreign labour.
The dispute began at the Lindsey Oil Refinery, North Lincolnshire, on Wednesday after a construction contract was awarded to an Italian firm.
Unions said the contract should have been given to British workers.
In a second day of action, 800 people protested outside the refinery as workers from other sites joined them.
Hundreds of contract workers at the neighbouring Conoco Phillips oil refinery took part in Thursday’s action.
Employees at BP’s Dimlington gas terminal in East Yorkshire and its chemical manufacturing plant in Saltend, Hull, also walked out in support of the Lindsey refinery workers.
Unofficial strike action was also taken by workers at Scottish Power’s Longannet power station in Fife.
Total, which owns the Lindsey refinery, said its main refining operations on the 500-acre site remained unaffected by the action.
It also stressed that there would be no direct redundancies as a result of the construction contract being awarded to Italian-based contractor IREM.
Unite union regional officer Bernard McAuley said workers at the refinery had been joined by hundreds of trade unionists and other supporters from around the UK.
He said: “They’ve come from all over the country. We reckon there were almost 1,000 people here today.
“We’ve also had huge numbers of messages of support from people who are incensed by this decision. It’s a total mockery.
“There are men here whose fathers and uncles have worked at this refinery, built this refinery from scratch. It’s outrageous.”