Page last updated at 14:40 GMT, Monday, 5 October 2009 15:40 UK

Power staff reject offer on pay

Protesters at Lindsey Oil Refinery
Protests were held at the Lindsey refinery in the summer

Workers at oil facilities and power stations across the UK have rejected an offer on pay and conditions aimed at ending a long-standing row.

Up to 30,000 construction workers were balloted over continuing efforts to end a dispute that saw a series of walkouts earlier this year.

The GMB union has asked for more talks, saying workers want more concessions.

The employers' group, the Engineering Construction Industry Association, said it was disappointed at the vote result.

The dispute started at the Lindsey oil terminal in Lincolnshire over claims local workers were being denied jobs that were instead given to teams from the continent.

Workers at sites including BP FPS Grangemouth and Ineos Grangemouth in Scotland, Sellafield in Cumbria, Shell UK Stanlow, Staythorpe RWE in Nottinghamshire, Chevron Pembroke and Aberthaw in Wales took part in the ballot.

'Further talks'

Phil Davies, national officer at the GMB union, said workers wanted more progress on setting up a skills and unemployment register, and on moves to stop employers undercutting agreed rates and terms and conditions.

To demand that employers choose British workers over foreign workers is effectively asking them to break the law

"The members want the package to be completed now so that they can see what they are getting," he said.

"The next step is to go back to the employers to see if they are up for further talks."

The Unite union, which also represents construction workers at the facilities, also called for the employers to return for more talks.

"The workers are still looking for movement from the employers on an effective means of workers being included in future construction projects," said Unite's assistant general secretary, Les Bayliss.

'Generous pay offer'

The Engineering Construction Industry Association (ECIA) said it was also surprised at the vote, seeing as the unions had urged their members to accept the offered agreement.

"The number of major construction projects this year nearly halved - from 20 projects in January to 12 in August," it said in a statement.

"Despite that, over the past three years, workers in our industry have seen their pay rise by 15%.

"This recent pay offer is twice the national average and comes at a time when thousands of people are facing pay freezes, pay cuts and shorter working weeks."

Touching upon the issue of foreign workers being employed in the UK, the ECIA added that it understands "concerns that unemployed [British] workers should be considered for jobs on construction sites in the UK".

However, it added that "the law allows British workers to work anywhere in the European Union and vice versa".

"To demand that employers choose British workers over foreign workers is effectively asking them to break the law," it said.

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