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Posted on 16 March 2011 at 15:12 GMT

400 construction workers fight lock-out at BP Saltend, Hull

400 engineering construction workers have been locked out from work since 14 March at BP Saltend near Hull. Arriving for work on Monday they were told by managers that their company, Redhalls, had had its contract terminated by Vivergo who run the new bio-ethanol plant.

Alistair Tice

Two weeks ago, these same workers took unofficial strike action and blockaded the BP site gates to win a victory, forcing Redhalls to abide by the national industry agreement over redundancy procedures.

This time police were there in force which means that the company must have tipped them off. And a prepared letter was handed to workers urging them to "go home peacefully .... and return the next day ready for work".

Workers returned on Tuesday to be told they were locked out. Electricians and scaffolders working for two other contractors have been stood down and will be paid 38 hours this week as per the Blue Book.

But Redhalls workers have been promised nothing and will only be paid 38 hours for last week's 46 hours of work!

Vivergo, which is majority owned by BP, issued a statement saying it had cancelled the mechanical and piping works contract because the works "should have been completed by February 2011".

The statement went on to say those works were "only 69% complete" and the construction site at Saltend had been closed for a period of assessment. It is not clear whether they want to mothball the project or get in new contractors.

But either way this is a lock-out and a tearing up of the national agreement. If the bosses can get away with this here, then they will try it everywhere.

This dispute is as important as the Lindsey Oil Refinery (LOR) strikes in 2009. Redhalls' workers have set up a strike committee including LOR strike leader Keith Gibson.

Plans have been made to protest against Vivergo and Redhalls and if the workers are not quickly reinstated with all monies owing paid, then a call will be made for a national walkout by NAECI construction workers.

Messages of support to Keith Gibson: geminis@geminis.karoo.co.uk or 07743135183

More reports to follow.

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