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UK: Coordinated wildcat action hits oil refineries and power stations

As anger at the cost of living crisis heats up, strike action, including unofficial wildcat walkouts, is becoming an increasingly popular response. On the morning of Wednesday 10th August, there was a call for workers at sites covered by the National Agreement for the Engineering Construction Industry (NAECI) to stop work.

Due to the rank-and-file nature of this strike, which is not officially backed by any trade union body, there was very little advance publicity other than an article on libcom, and so far it’s not clear how many sites have been affected.

One place that certainly was hit by the wildcat was the Grangemouth oil refinery near Falkirk, where an estimated 250 workers blocked roads to prevent any access to the site, and a strike and road blockade also seems to have happened at the Fawley refinery in Hampshire. Workers at the Valero refinery in Pembrokeshire are also taking part. There are also reports of workers striking at the Drax power station in North Yorkshire. Prior to the action taking place, Sellafield in Cumbria and a number of sites in Teesside had also been named as possible targets, but at the time of writing, it’s not clear whether any walkouts took place on the day.

In a statement explaining their action, the strikers wrote:

Today’s action is in response to the ECIA (Engineering Construction Industry Association)’s refusal to recognise the impact of the cost of living crisis. We received a 2.5 per cent pay rise in January and will receive 2.5 per cent again in January next year. Due to extraordinary events beyond our control, inflation is currently running at 11.8 per cent. Many employers have acknowledged these events and have negotiated pay rises and one-off payments. Unfortunately, workers covered by the NAECI and those whose pay mirrors the NAECI are expected to get on with it. Some of us worked throughout the pandemic to keep the country running, some of us were made redundant. We accepted changes to the agreement and took a pay freeze to help the employers and to keep the industry moving during lockdown. Now we are asking the ECIA to come back to the negotiating table because of these once-in-a-lifetime events. So far, they have point blank refused. We cannot allow this cavalier attitude to continue.

The original call for action stated that strikes would take place every two weeks if the employers did not change their position, which would make Wednesday 24th August the next day of action.

Cautiously Pessimistic

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