Wildcat strike spreads to Sellafield
By politics.co.uk staff
Workers at the Sellafield nuclear site have joined wildcat strikes about the use of foreign workers.
They will join workers from Longannat power station and Grangemouth oil refinery.
Staff at a nuclear site in Heysham, Lancashire, are currently deciding whether to join the action.
The strikes began last week after workers objected to the use of Italian and Portugese workers at the Lindsey refinery.
Total management are refusing to enter into further negotiations until staff return to work, but that option currently looks unlikely given the level of militancy reported in the crowd today.
In a statement to the Lords this afternoon, business secretary Lord Maendelson said: “No policy of discrimination is being operated at the refinery.”
He went on to stress the importance of the free movement of workers within the EU.
As the sun came up this morning, there were around 300 protestors at the refinery.
At the end of last week, over 1,500 workers in Scotland walked out on the same issue
The government appears to have been taken aback by the size and speed of the wildcat strike.
Alan Johnson, a former trade unionist leader and now health secretary, expressed concerns about foreign workers being brought to the country on worse terms than UK workers in an attempt to undercut domestic labour.
Prime minister Gordon Brown expressed some sympathy with the strikers but said the method was wrong.
Speaking to the BBC’s Politics Show from Davos yesterday, he said he understood people were worried about jobs being taken by overseas workers but that the UK is part of a single European market.
On the strikes, Mr Brown said: “That that’s not the right thing to do and it’s not defensible.”
The prime minister also defended his pledge of “British jobs for British people”, which became a slogan for wildcat strikers on Friday.
He said: “When I talked about British jobs, I was taking about giving people in Britain the skills, so that they have the ability to get jobs which were at present going to people from abroad and actually encouraging people to take up the courses and the education and learning that is necessary for British workers to be far more skilled for the future.”
Mediation organisation ACAS is currently looking into the dispute.