Monday, June 22, 2009

U.K. Oil Workers Do Not Accept Lay Off

From the Socialist Daily Newspaper of the UK:
The Morning Star

Monday 22 June 2009
by John Millington

Defiant oil workers who were sacked by energy giant Total after taking strike action are planning to burn their dismissal letters outside an oil terminal on Monday morning.

The sacked workers will stage the protest in north Lincolnshire, very close to the Lindsey oil refinery.

Total sacked the 650 workers for engaging in unofficial strike action in support of 51 contractors who had already been thrown on the scrapheap.

A sacked Lindsey oil worker warned: "Total will soon realise they have unleashed a monster."

The company had offered the workers the "opportunity" to reapply for their jobs by 5pm on Monday - but workers at the oil terminal were having none of it.

Solidarity walkouts have already been seen across the country, with the possibility of more to follow as workers at energy sites become increasingly aggrieved.

The dispute looks set to escalate as some workplace reps are warning that further sympathy action in the energy industry could see power supply to the public affected, with possible blackouts.

Rallying calls to fellow energy workers were sent via text message which read: "Cometh the hour, cometh the man.

"Your support is now needed more than ever. We must fight this NOW."

Talks aimed at resolving the dispute had been due to take place between union representatives and employers, with conciliation service ACAS mediating between the parties.

Bizarrely, however, representatives from Total appeared disinterested in ending the crisis by refusing to meet unions.

The unions were left unimpressed by the behaviour of Total, lambasting its refusal to meet as "outrageous and disgraceful."

GMB general secretary Paul Kenny said: "We will support the locked-out and victimised workers and will demonstrate our support with peaceful and lawful protests.

"Total would not even consider treating its French workers in this way."

Mr Kenny called on Total to meet the unions as soon as possible to try to break the deadlocked row.

Describing the breakdown of talks before they had even begun, Mr Kenny said: "GMB and others were asked by Total to attend talks early this morning and our people travelled from across the country for the meeting."

In a warning to the energy company, Mr Kenny added: "Bullying and intimidation is not the way to bring about peace."

Fellow energy union Unite assistant general secretary Les Bayliss was equally unequivocal in his criticism of Total, urging them to see sense and get back to talks immediately.

Assessing the wider economic picture, Mr Bayliss noted the major difficulties working people face.

Communist party of Britain general secretary Robert Griffiths said:

"Wherever workers are strong enough to take action, then this often provides the most effective response to attacks from employers."

Mr Griffiths added that not "even the most oppressive anti-trades union laws in western Europe can defeat workers who are militant and united in their determination to defend their rights and living standards."

There is to be a rally outside the site at Eastfield Road, Immingham DN40 3LW from 6.30am onwards on Tuesday. Trade union and labour movement speakers have been invited.

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