Britain: What’s really behind the Lindsey Oil Refinery strike

Strike action spreads – defend rights, wages and conditions!

Socialist Party leaflet: front, back.

What’s really behind the Lindsey Oil Refinery strike

A ninety-day redundancy notice had been issued, around mid November 2008, at Lindsey Oil Refinery (LOR), Lincolnshire, England, for Shaws’ workforce.

This meant that by 17 February 2009, a number of Shaws’ construction workers (LOR) would be made redundant.

The day before the Christmas holiday, Shaws’ shop-stewards reported to the men that a part of the contract on LOR’s HDS3 plant had been awarded to IREM, an Italian company.

The Stewards explained that Shaws had lost one third of the contract to IREM, who would be employing their own Portuguese and Italian workforce, numbering 200-300.

Stewards and Union Officials asked to meet with IREM after Christmas, to clarify the proposal (i.e. if IREM would employ British labour?). Shaws’ workforce were told that the IREM workforce would be housed in floating barges, in Grimsby docks, for the duration of the job. They would be bussed to work in the morning, and bussed to and from the barge for lunch.

IREM workers would work from 7.30am – 11.30am and 13.00 – 1700. On Saturdays, they would work 4 hours, to make up a working week of 44 hours. The normal working week is 44 hours, over 5 days, from 7.30 -1600, finishing at 1400 on Fridays (most workers work overtime).

Normal breaks include 10 minutes in the morning and a 30 minute dinner break. Stewards were told that IREM workers would be paid the national rate for the job. To date this has not been confirmed.

After Christmas, the nominated Shop Stewards entered into negotiations with IREM. Meanwhile, a National Shop Stewards Forum for the construction Industry held a meeting in London to discuss Staythorpe Power Station, where the company Alstom were refusing to hire British labour, relying on non-union Polish and Spanish workers instead.

Workers’ solidarity

It was decided that all Blue Book sites, covered by the National Agreement for the Engineering and Construction Industry (NAECI), should send delegations down to Staythorpe to protest against Alstoms’ actions.

The workforce on the LOR site sent delegations. Then, on Wednesday, 28 January 2009, Shaws’ workforce were told by the Stewards that IREM had stated they would not be employing British labour.

The entire LOR workforce, from all subcontracting companies, met and voted unanimously to take immediate unofficial strike action.

The following day, over a thousand construction workers from LOR, Conoco and Easington sites descended outside LOR’s gate to picket and protest.

This was the spark that ignited the spontaneous unofficial walk outs of our brother construction workers across the length and breadth of Britain.

This worker solidarity is against the ’conscious blacking’ of British construction workers by company bosses who refuse to recruit skilled British labour in the U.K.

The workers of LOR, Conoco and Easington did not take strike action against immigrant workers. Our action is rightly aimed against company bosses who attempt to play off one nationality of worker against the other and undermine the NAECI agreement.


Socialist Party demands for Construction Industry:

  • No victimisation of workers taking solidarity action.
  • All workers in UK to be covered by NAECI Agreement
  • Union-controlled registering of unemployed and locally skilled union members
  • Government and employer investment in proper training / apprenticeships for new generation of construction workers
  • All immigrant labour to be unionised.
  • Trade Union assistance for immigrant workers – via interpreters – to give the right of access to Trade Union advice and to promote active integrated Trade Union membership

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February 2009