Britain: Oil refinery strikes defy anti-trade union laws

Support strikers at Lindsey oil refinery!

Yesterday the solidarity action spread in support of the over Shaw workers (sub-contractor at Lindsey) that had been laid off at Lindsey Oil Refinery in Britain. Now Total, who run Lindsey, have gone on the offensive sacking 900 workers. In a magnificent display of solidarity, workers at construction sites across Britain, including at Fiddlers Ferry, Drax, Eggborough, BP Saltend, South Hook, Aberthaw, Ratcliffe, Scunthorpe BOC, West Burton, Didcott and Staythorpe have come out in support. These strikes take place following the victorious strike at Lindsey in January, which won 102 new jobs at the site, and represent a powerful blow to Britain’s anti trade union laws. Below we publish a Socialist Party (CWI in England & Wales) newsletter.

Oil refinery strikes defy anti-trade union laws

Strikers and supporters

Appeal for solidarity action – support the Lindsey strikers!

The Facts: Last Wednesday 10 June, 51 Shaws workers were give “imminent redundancy notices” to take effect from Friday 12 june. There was no consultation. On Monday 8 June, Blackett & Charlton (RBC) had taken on 61 recruits in almost identical numbers and trades to those being sacked by Shaws. The Shaws workers were given no opportunity to transfer to RBC. Remember that RBC are only at Lindsey Oil Refinery as a result of the 102 new jobs created by January’s strike which was provoked by a third of Shaws contract being awarded to anti-union firm IREM. On Thurs 11 June, Shaws workers walked out of the gate, supported by scaffolders from S.G.B, electricians for B.K., and other trades from B.I.S. O’Hares and RBC, and have all stayed out on strike. Jacobs’ management, who’s strings are being pulled by Total, have refused to negotiate unless there is a return to work, but have stated that the 51 will still be sacked anyway. Faced with this ultimatum, a mass meeting of LOR workers yesterday (Weds 17th) voted unanimously to continue the strike until the 51 redundancies are withdrawn. It is clear now that the LOR bosses are using this dispute (caused by their own mis-management and their reneging on agreements made in February) to seek revenge for their forced climbdown by the strike earlier this year. Taken with the leaked ECIA advice to employers on subverting the official union strike ballot, the bosses have declared war against the trade unions, shop stewards and the NAECI agreement. That is why we appeal for your support. Unity is strength. Together we will win. Again.

Our demands:

  • Withdraw the 51 redundancies
  • Share out the work!
  • Proper consultation and negotiation
  • Appeal for solidarity action
  • Support Lindsey strikers

picket at refinery gates

Leaked document exposes bosses’ plan to subvert union strike ballot

From Press Release by a shop steward:

Secret documents leaked by a trade union show how firms are planning to fight planned industrial action at industrial sites across Britain.

The Engineering Construction Industry Association has drawn up a list of moves in which construction and engineering employers can take against members of Unite and GMB, who are preparing to strike over a 5.5 per cent pay claim.

The leaked documents quote the ECIA’s employment relations manager, Simon Bailey, advising firms not to allow some mass meetings to take place.

“Don’t give names and addresses of your workforce to full time officers of the unions and shop stewards. Don’t allow full time officer’s access to your workforce, unless their intentions for the visit are made clear and they are not related to the ballot.

“Don’t allow your shop stewards time off to organise the ballot or promote a vote in support of industrial action.”

Instead, the association tells firms to stress “the depressed state of the industry and the economy in general.”

“Industrial action could be harmful to the long term prospects of the UK engineering construction industry and its workforce. It is therefore in the employers’ interests not to act in a way which aids and abets the unions to run a successful ballot…

“The employers have nothing to hide or feel guilty about.”

A shop steward, who led the demonstrations at the Lindsey Oil Refinery earlier this year, and is a key official in the current dispute, is calling for Mr Bailey to be fired. “The employers are deliberately trying to undermine the ability of the unions to represent the workforce, which is frankly scandalous.

“This is a sick and cynical attempt to frighten a proud workforce into submission. It is further evidence of anti-union sentiment from the employer’s organisation which represents firms, who have a history of anti-union activities.

“It seeks to undermine the wages and conditions of people who have in many cases devoted their lives to the industry, and whose families have suffered some of the worst aspects of the recession.”

The shop steward says management intimidation is likely to motivate workers to take industrial action, rather than have the intended effect.

The ECIA document also says that Employers should: “maintain current conditions of work and only make significant contentious changes if there is a health and safety requirement to do so or the changes were consulted upon or agreed before the announcement about the ballot. Aggravating your workforce with other matters will only raise tension at this time and make them more likely to support industrial action.”

Appeal for messages of support

Please send solidarity messages to with copies to and to Text messages of support should be sent to Keith Gibson (Lindsey) on 0044 7743 135183.

Special financial appeal to all readers of

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June 2009