Page last updated at 15:47 GMT, Thursday, 7 August 2008 16:47 UK

Power station builders walk out

Power station strike
Up to 350 workers were believed to have walked out

Hundreds of construction workers at a power station walked out on strike after claims 16 men were told their services were no longer needed.

The striking workers said they were protesting about the replacement of the labourers with foreign workers at the Langage Energy Centre in Plymouth.

However, they returned to work on Thursday afternoon after the laid-off men received a pay-out.

Up to 350 people had reportedly walked out at about 0700 BST.

Managers said they were "disappointed" action took place.

Langage is the first major power station to be built in the UK for five years. When completed, the gas-fired facility will be run by energy company Centrica.

They gave us their full backing
Brian Mills on his former colleagues

One of the men who was laid off, Brian Mills, from Glasgow, said he arrived at the site on Sunday to begin what he thought was a six-month building contract.

Mr Mills, who is a representative for the union Unite, said he and 15 other workers were told on Wednesday there was no more work for them.

The unofficial strike began after the 16 men who were laid off went to the gates of the site on Thursday morning and explained what had happened to their former colleagues.

Mr Mills said: "As soon as they heard of our plight, they gave us their full backing."

He claimed other union members decided to go on strike after learning that Polish workers were being brought in to replace them.

'Naturally disappointed'

Those who took action said they did not blame any of the foreign workers, just the handling of the situation by management.

The workers are contracted on the site by the French company Alstom.

Alstom said it was "limited" strike involving subcontractors.

It said: "Following discussions during the day with union representatives and representatives of our sub-contractors, the issues have been satisfactory concluded and work has resumed."

During the action, Centrica said in a statement that it was "naturally disappointed" that it had taken place.

The 400m station is due to be completed in 2009. It will provide 885 megawatts of electricity, enough to power about a million homes.

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