Page last updated at 11:58 GMT, Friday, 30 January 2009

Support demo over foreign staff


Workers at Aberthaw explain why they held their protest

A "peaceful protest" has taken place outside one of Wales' biggest power stations over the use of foreign workers at an oil refinery in England.

About 50 people gathered outside Aberthaw power station in the Vale of Glamorgan on Friday morning.

It was in support of staff at Lindsey Oil Refinery, North Lincolnshire.

Meanwhile, a number of workers at two LNG South Hook gas terminals in Milford Haven, Pembrokeshire, have also walked out in support.

It is all connected with a protest by staff at the Lindsey refinery in north Lincolnshire over a 200m construction contract being given to an Italian firm.

Industry contractors have also walked out at sites in northern England and Scotland in support over the escalating protest, which began on Wednesday with a walk-out by the Lindsey workers.

Protestors outside Aberthaw
Workers at Aberthaw are calling for "British jobs for British people"

Unions said British staff should be doing the work at the oil refinery.

Total, owners of the Lindsey refinery at North Killingholme, said there would be "no direct redundancies" as a result.

At Aberthaw, South Wales Police said officers were at the scene to monitor the protest.

Mr Thomas, of the Unite unions, said the protest was not a "witch hunt" against foreign workers.

But he said there were concerns that future jobs in the industry would not go to British workers.

"What we're concerned about is [we are] in a recession, we're concerned that all the people that have been made redundant in the UK over these issues could be trained and put back into these particular vacancies," he said.

"There's plenty of unemployed construction workers and other workers who can be put in these vacancies."

He added: "We're fighting for our particular jobs for UK construction workers and for the younger generation.

"All we are saying is British jobs for British people."

Protestors outside Aberthaw
Around 50 workers held a demonstration at Aberthaw

He said the demonstration was not an official strike and that the protestors were not stopping vehicles going in and out of Aberthaw.

But some workers turning up at the site and joined them, he added.

Alex Fisher, 52, who works as a plater at Aberthaw, said he was protesting to ensure his children could follow him into the industry.

"There's no apprenticeships for them to do anything," he said.

Speaking about a new fuel gas desulphurisation (FGD) plant, which is currently being built at Aberthaw to ensure the power station keeps running, he said: "There's been a smattering of apprenticeships but it could have carried a lot more. Surely you have to train the youth, that's how you cover your skills shortage."

Andy Summers, 60, said: "We have all travelled all over the UK on contracts. I've been doing it for 45 years. All of a sudden we can't get the jobs because of the influx of European labour."

Public safety

RWE npower, which runs the power station, said: "Around 50 contract workers, who work on either construction or maintenance projects, are peacefully demonstrating at the main entrance of Aberthaw Power Station.

"Police are on site and have sectioned off an area for the demonstration.

"No RWE npower staff are involved and Aberthaw Power Station continues to operate normally."

A South Wales Police spokeswoman said: "A number of protesters have gathered on the roadside outside Aberthaw power station officers are at the scene.

"Our first priority is the safety of the public and the protesters at the site. We are in communication with the protesters and are facilitating a lawful protest."

One-day protest

Workers at two LNG plants are also understood to be demonstrating in support of workers at Lindsay.

Brendon Stack, GMB steward, said workers walked out of the sites on Friday morning after a site meeting with stewards.

He said they had gone home in a one-day protest but will return on Sunday and Monday for their shifts as normal.

A spokesman for South Hook LNG said: "I confirm that a number of contractor workers at the South Hook site have left the site today in support of industrial action being taken elsewhere in the UK.

"The majority of the workforce continues to work normally."

Humberside Police said numbers of protesters at the Lindsey refinery demonstration on Thursday, which passed off peacefully, was near 800.

Employees at BP's Dimlington gas terminal in East Yorkshire and its chemical manufacturing plant in Saltend, Hull, also walked out in support of the Lindsey refinery workers.

Unofficial strike action was also taken by workers at Scottish Power's Longannet power station in Fife.

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