Talks to try and resolve a dispute over the use of foreign workers at an oil refinery in the UK are due to start today.
But tension remains high as more British staff in related industries contemplate sympathy strikes in support of last week’s wildcat walkouts. The unrest could put trade unions on a collision course with the government after Prime Minister Gordon Brown condemned the action. “ That’s not the right thing to do,” said Brown “it’s not defensible. What we’ve set up is a process to deal with the questions people have been asking, about what has happened in this particular instance.” But local unemployed workers close to the Lincolnshire refinery remain angry at what they believe is discrimination against the use of British labour. Portuguese and Italian workers are continuing to work at the Total-owned refinery. They were brought in as part of a tendered contract won by an Italian company. But unions say local labour should have been used. Total deny any discrimination saying the contract was legally awarded under EU law.