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STRIKE THREAT; Teesside workers set to take further action.

Byline: SARAH JUDD

HUNDREDS of construction workers who walked out on the site of a pounds 250m Teesside development may continue their wildcat strike on Monday.

As reported in later editions of the Evening Gazette yesterday, more than 1,000 workers constructing the Ensus bioethanol plant in Wilton staged a walkout, after hundreds of fellow construction workers from Lindsey oil refinery were sacked.

The show of support for workers at the Lincolnshire refinery has been demonstrated up and down the country in the form of unofficial strike action. And the scale of the nationwide walkout, sparked by the Lindsey refinery dispute, could soon affect electricity supplies, activists have warned.

One of the former employees from Lindsey said: ''There is a serious possibility that the lights will go out because of this. We just cannot stand by and see workers discarded like an oily cloth.'' Today, one of the Teesside construction workers, employed on the Simon Carves-led project by companies including Carillion, Cordell, Fabricom and Interserve scaffolding, said a similar walkout may go ahead on Monday if the situation in Lincolnshire does not improve.

The Evening Gazette also understands more senior workers at the Wilton site have no knowledge of the workers' intentions for next week.

One construction worker, who did not want to be named, said: "We will go back to the site on Monday to find out what the feedback from the Lindsey Oil Refinery has been.

"An official from the Unite union was holding crisis talks with the refinery yesterday. If the situation is still the same on Monday morning there will be another site meeting and there's a good chance we'll walk again until it's sorted out." Around 900 Lindsey oil refinery workers have received letters from French giant Total saying they had until Monday to reapply for their jobs and the dispute flared when a contractor laid off 51 workers while another employer was hiring staff.

However, hopes of a breakthrough in the bitter jobs dispute were dashed, when planned crisis talks failed to go ahead, despite a series of wildcat strikes breaking out across the country.

Yesterday morning, the conciliation services Acas had convened a meeting between management at the Lindsey oil refinery and union leaders.

They waited for the talks to start, but it was revealed later they never got under way.

Acas said in a statement: "We were invited by Total management for potential talks between the parties today.

"After discussions between Total management and their contractors, they decided not to go ahead with the talks. We remain in touch with the parties." Union sources said their officials waited for four hours before being told Total "no longer felt the need" to have a meeting.

The Teesside construction worker said: "The big question is, because we went out on unofficial strike action, will we be allowed to go back onto the Wilton site? We might get there and they might lock the gates on us." Nobody from Simon Carves, the company leading the construction of the Ensus plant that is due to open later in the summer, was available for comment..

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WALK OUT: Wilton's Ensus plant where hundreds of workers staged a wildcat strike in support of the Lindsey oil refinery dispute
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Publication:Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)
Date:Jun 20, 2009
Words:541
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