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June 25, 2009

U.K. refinery workers vow to fight job cuts

LONDON

Workers fired from a French-run oil refinery in northern England publicly burned their dismissal notices at a rally this week and declared their determination to fight on.

Oil and gas company Total fired about 600 contracted refinery workers last week after a series of unofficial strikes over job losses.

Workers had complained that 51 jobs were being cut while elsewhere on the site staff was being hired.

At other industrial sites around England, employees staged walkouts to show their sympathy for the refinery workers at Lindsey, about 165 miles (265 kilometres) north of London.

Leaders of the national GMB union vowed to fight the job cuts.

“Let them show us how many want to go back in there crawling on their bellies for their jobs,” union official Phil Whitehurst said at the rally. “We go out together, we go back together.”

Total said the strike had stopped work on a 200 million pound ($330 million) hydro-desulphurization plant, but had not affected refining operations.

Meanwhile, thousands of workers contracted at other sites around England announced strikes in support of the Lindsey workers.

At the Sellafield nuclear reprocessing facility in northwestern England, some 900 welders, electricians, platers and pipe fitters decided Monday to stay off the job until Wednesday.

The Sellafield workers had no complaint about their employment, but believed Total was riding roughshod over its employees, UNITE Union organizer Gary Stockton said. Sellafield management said those on strike were all contract workers, and that direct employees were remaining on the job.

Associated Press

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