Foreign worker strike ends

By Blaine Williams

Workers at the Lindsey oil refinery have gone back to work after claiming ‘victory’ in their dispute over foreign workers.

The deal to return to work included the creation of 100 new jobs which UK workers can apply for.

A Lindsey spokesman said: “We are very pleased that the Lindsey oil refinery contractors have agreed to return to work, following a meeting with Union officials this morning.

“We would like to highlight again that we have not, and will not, discriminate against British companies and British workers.

“Total and Jacobs, our main contractor, proposed to the unions during talks that 102 extra workers will be employed on the [HDS-3] project. We hope this is a further demonstration of our commitment to local employment opportunities.”

The jobs will not be taken away from the Italian and Portuguese workers.

The original strike at the Lindsey refinery quickly led to a spate of sympathy strikes across the UK.

The strike has been criticised for being “xenophobic” by business secretary Lord Mandelson.

The trade unionists strongly refute this claim, saying they are just looking for a fair deal for British workers.

Phil Whitehurst, union member, said: “People have said it’s racist. It’s not. We’re not part of the BNP. I’ve shunned the BNP away from here.

“It’s about British workers getting access to a British construction site.”

Derek Simpson, director general of Unite said: “A level playing field for jobs means that UK workers should have the right to apply for UK jobs.

“We are deeply concerned that other organisations like the BNP and UKIP are trying to attach themselves to this protest. UKIP, with its anti-Europe stance and the BNP, with their racist views, hold no sway over the unions.”

These strikes also led to a heated exchange during PMQ.

David Cameron asked whether Gordon Brown’s use of the phrase, ‘British jobs for British workers’, “showed a lack of judgement”.

Mr Cameron added the use of the slogan, used during the 2007 Labour conference, was “opportunistic, protectionist, and pandering to people’s fears”.

Mr Brown replied with the traditional line of ‘at least we are doing something’, replying: “It is absolutely crucial we do everything in our power to help, that is why we have created new apprenticeships, are helping the unemployed and creating new jobs.

“The biggest error would be to do nothing”.

Labour MP John Mann has put down an early day motion in the Commons “deploring” the use of foreign workers at the Lindsey refinery and praising unions for “exposing this exploitation and the absence of equal opportunities to apply for all jobs”.

It is believed that the resolution of the dispute will now end the other strikes occurring around the country.