Wildcat strikers to hold national ballot

By Liz Stephens

Thousands of building workers will hold a nationwide ballot this month to try to bring an end to disputes in power stations and refineries across the country.

The move was announced today as hundreds of strikers and their supporters continued to protest outside the Lindsey oil refinery in North Lincolnshire following the sacking of almost 650 contract staff by firms working for French oil giant Total.

Thousands of contract workers have walked out in sympathy with the Lindsey strikers at sites from Scotland to south Wales, including 900 men at the Sellafield nuclear complex in Cumbria.

Total, the French owner of the Lindsey refinery, reversed its policy of non-negotiation yesterday and called on subcontractors and unions to get round the table.

GMB general secretary, Paul Kenny, told protesters today that the union was launching a £100,000 hardship fund to help them cope without pay while negotiations went on.

“We think we are about a week away from launching the ballot” he said.

He also reiterated “there will be no resolution of this dispute unless all the sacked workers are reinstated.”

Total said their contractors believed they would have enough workers back at work by the end of the week to restart work on the £200 million hydro-desulphurisation plant but warned that further trouble could jeopardise the entire project.