Thousands of workers across Britain have shown solidarity with construction workers sacked at the Lindsey Oil Refinery (owned by Total – the petroleum and energy supplier) expansion project by taking wildcat, or spontaneous ‘unofficial’, strike action against their bosses. Some may remember the Lindsey Refinery workers from the series of wildcats that took place earlier this year, wildcats which the mainstream media misleadingly portrayed as racist and nationalist due to slogans used by a minority of the workers, despite the fact that foreign workers had come out on strike with their fellow workers, and demanded to help unionise and increase the working conditions of these foreign labourers.
Scottish Unite official Bobby Buirds’ comments that the current strike are “not against foreign workers, it’s against foreign companies discriminating against British labour” confirms that the strike is against bosses, not fellow (foreign) workers. The foreign workers are just doing what any of us would do if we were desperate for work, but the media have turned this into some “foreigners go home” trip again. Foreign workers regularly suffer appalling living and working conditions, along with low wages and little in the way of representation. Given that the contract was awarded to the lowest-bidding tender, it is likely that these are the same conditions being faced by the Italian workers on Humberside.
I work for a contracted company in charge of the maintenance of a oil refinery in south Wales. The start of the strike occurred due to an Italian company being contracted to increase refinery capacity at the Lindsey refinery. The strikes quickly spread across the rest of the refineries sporting the slogan “British Jobs for British workers”.