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Posted on 26 January 2012 at 10:50 GMT

Sparks protest at Conoco and solidarity with Jet tanker drivers

Alistair Tice

Electricians from West Burton power station in Nottinghamshire and BP Saltend in Hull took strike action on Wednesday 25 January against the new Besna contracts being imposed on them.

Around 100 protested in the early morning at the ConocoPhillips oil refinery in Immingham on the South Humber bank.

Pickets appealed to the 40 or so electricians employed there by Balfour Beatty (BBES) to join them in striking for the day.

Previously the BBES sparks had not crossed picket lines but then gone in to work after protesters had left.

At a shop meeting on the 24 January only ten of the BB electricians had voted to come out the next day.

But after a mass meeting with the West Burton and Saltend workers in the car park on Wednesday, a majority of the BB sparks voted to stay out, a decision greeted with applause by all the protesters.

Ian Bell, Unite shop steward for Interserve electricians at Saltend, said that they would be protesting at Trinity Leeds next Wednesday and back at ConocoPhillips the week after that. He said his gaffer had pulled him in the day before about their "illegal strikes", to which Ian had replied: "Since when has it been illegal to protest?" The boss had said, "It is in works time" to which Ian replied, "When else are we going to do it!"

After getting a result at the oil refinery, a dozen or so striking electricians drove onto Immingham Docks to join the striking Jet tanker drivers, fellow Unite members, who are picketing the ConocoPhillips refinery depot.

They started a week-long strike on Tuesday against the threat of 20% pay cuts. Both groups of workers recognised that they were fighting bosses trying to drive down terms and conditions in a race to the bottom.

Unite have given notice of a further week's strike action by the tanker drivers and the sparks said they would be back in a fortnight to stand in solidarity with them again.

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