Wildcat strikes at oil refineries

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.”

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2 Responses to “Wildcat strikes at oil refineries”

  1. David Lindsay Says:

    It should not, but evidently it does, require the statute law for this one.

    Assuming the relevant qualifications and experience, the pecking order should run: British citizens; Irish citizens, and citizens of countries having the same Head of State as the United Kingdom; other Commonwealth citizens; everyone else. No exceptions. Prosecution for non-compliance.

    The only possible change to these arrangements would be if a new body were created parallel to the Commonwealth, also ceremonially headed by the monarch and having his or her Realms and territories as the core members, but open to anywhere, regardless of any connection or otherwise to the British Empire, that wanted to make a (basically Christian) stand against European federalism, American military-industrial hegemony (which the Americans themselves have now rejected at the polls), globlisation, and the rise of China.

    Italy probably wouldn’t join, but Portugal (and Poland) probably would. And member-states’ citizens should at least have parity with those of Commonwealth countries not headed by the Queen.

    If necessary, to hell with the EU. And anyway, giving priority to domestic workers (and produce) is normal in many other EU countries, possibly in all of them.

    Before anyone tries it, it is quite likely that these Italians are not practising Catholics these days, and if the Portuguese are anything like the Poles then they will be very Catholic indeed at home but barely at all over here. In any case, it is beside the point. Catholic Social Teaching does not permit the deliberate driving down of wages and working conditions. Quite the reverse, in fact.

    Note that the workers of all four parts of the United Kingdom have risen as one. For one they are.

  2. charliemarks Says:

    Well, when the strikers in England were told that their “Scottish brothers” had walked out in sympathy with their cause, there was a cheer. No doubt Scottish workers said they were striking in solidarity with their “English brothers”. So too, the Welsh protesters.

    Perhaps only in the six counties in Ireland would anyone have said, “We British workers are striking in sympathy with our fellow British workers” – and only if they didn’t share our membership of the Catholic church, David! Irish Catholics don’t tend to go in for Britishness, nor your love of the monarchy…

    The placards might carry Brown’s promise, but the concept of “Britishness” isn’t exactly the same.


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