Page last updated at 14:23 GMT, Wednesday, 20 May 2009 15:23 UK

More walkouts over foreign staff

Protesters at South Hook LNG
Workers across the UK have joined in the action


Thousands around the UK have walked out in support of 200 workers who staged a wildcat strike outside a liquefied natural gas terminal in Pembrokeshire.

The dispute at Milford Haven is unofficial action over foreign labour.

Thousands at two oil refineries in north Lincolnshire have walked out in support of the South Hook LNG strike.

Workers at a power station in the Vale of Glamorgan have also walked out. The firm running South Hook said it regretted the situation had escalated.

South Hook workers who were protesting outside the LNG site from early morning left at lunchtime but are expected to return on Thursday.

They are unhappy that workers, many from Poland, have been recruited to carry out some of the duties at the site. They say that British workers were not offered the work - a claim the company denies.

Meetings are being held with company officials later.

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A wildcat strike at the LNG South Hook terminal over a foreign labour employment dispute has spread to other refineries across the UK.

The workers were supported in the action for a second day by colleagues at the Dragon LNG plant in Milford Haven.

About 2,500 workers walked out of two refineries at North Killingholme, Northern Lincolnshire.

They say the protest will carry on until the situation in Milford Haven is resolved.

Hundreds of workers in Lincolnshire went on strike in February in a row over the use of Italian and Portuguese workers.

Strikers on site have told the BBC that roads in the area - including the A160 - have been blocked by protestors

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Shop Steward Terry Jones says workers at the LNG South Hook terminal have walked out over an employment dispute

They also claim that no vehicles are entering or leaving the two refineries operated by Total and Conoco.

Meanwhile, 250 contract workers have walked out of Aberthaw Power Station in the Vale of Glamorgan.

They include pipe-fitters, laggers, scaffolders, welders and other trades involved in annual maintenance and on the installation of new de-sulphurisation equipment to clean-up Aberthaw's emissions.

Meanwhile, Frank Willmitt, the GMB shop steward at Fiddler's Ferry power plant in Warrington, Cheshire, said workers were meeting at 1030 BST to discuss whether to walk out in support of workers at South Hook.

He said it is "highly likely they will walk out" again.

They had returned earlier this morning after a similar walkout on Tuesday.

Opened by Queen

The walk out started on Tuesday with 50 laggers at South Hook LNG in Milford Haven, Pembrokeshire.

The terminal, which imports gas from the Middle East, was officially opened by the Queen last week.

On Tuesday, workers also walked out in sympathy at plants as far afield as Vale of Glamorgan, Lincolnshire and Widnes.

Hertel UK managing director David Fitzsimons said the company employed more than 3,500 UK personnel, including 150 apprentices and trainees.

He said they had looked to employ local labour but had been unable to find skilled people for the start of the project.

"As a result, we subcontracted the works to a third party which also employs non-UK labour and was also engaged on phase 1 of this project in 2008," he said.

But Mr Fitzsimons said it was short term project and they would be involved for approximately three months. He said the company had agreed with union officials that they would hire local skilled personnel once they are identified.

"I regret that this situation has escalated," he added.



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SEE ALSO
Walkout after 'local labour' row
19 May 09 |  Wales
Support demo over foreign staff
30 Jan 09 |  Wales

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