Power jobs go abroad
Hundreds of construction workers from all over the UK are expected at the gates of Staythorpe Power Station on Monday.
A spokesman for Unite the Union said they believed no UK labour would be employed on the above-ground construction phase of the £660m gas-fired power station.
Alstom Power, the French firm building the power station on behalf of RWE npower, denied the claim.
Alstom has maintained its position that over the full 30-month construction period British workers would do more than two-thirds of the work.
Unite is meeting the Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, and senior ministers, amid fears a decision not to employ UK workers could be repeated on similar projects elsewhere.
It claims 18 Hungarian workers are already working at Staythorpe and that 250 Poles and another 250 Spanish and Portuguese workers will follow on the next phase of construction.
The secretary of the Newark branch of Unite, Mr David Smeeton, said those workers would stay in Nottingham so would bring little benefit to the local economy.
He said demonstrations would start on Monday and continue throughout next week.
Unite claims the situation makes a of mockery of Gordon Brown’s assurance of “British jobs for British workers.”
An unemployed rigger from Bancroft Road, Newark, Mr Stephen Pride, who will be at the protest, said: “We are gutted.
“For once we were looking at being able to work without travelling away and we would have been spending the money we earned here in what is a very difficult time for the economy.”
The MP for Newark, Mr Patrick Mercer, will be at Monday’s protest. He said he would take up the concerns of local workers with Alstom.
“This has become a national issue and this is a local manifestation of that,” said Mr Mercer. “I am anxious to speak to the Prime Minister.”
Alstom has awarded two main contracts to Spanish sub-contractors who have employed foreign welders and pipe-workers.
The Alstom spokesman said, as well as being involved in the construction, British workers would form the majority of permanent staff at the station.
“Our priority is to build and deliver a safe, effective power station by engaging companies and personnel with the appropriate skills and expertise necessary for a major project of this kind.
“Staythorpe is an important and positive project being delivered in the UK, creating UK jobs, keeping the lights on and bringing £10m a year to the local economy around the site.
“Any claim that there will be no UK workers on the mechanical engineering phase is simply inaccurate and false.
“UK labour is already being employed in the mechanical phase. We are actively working with our sub-contractors to identify suitable opportunities for local and suitably qualified candidates and we discuss issues like this with the unions on an ongoing basis.”
The spokesman said it was recruiting local apprentices.
“We always give British workers and British firms an equal chance to bid for work on the project,” he said.
“Workers will live in accommodation which can be secured as close as possible to the site. It is wholly false to say these workers will provide no benefit to the local community.”
A spokesman for the Department for Business and Enterprise said: “It’s important that investment in this country leads to as many jobs as possible for UK workers.
“But this particular situation is complicated. There are no UK suppliers of combined cycle gas technology, which is being used at Staythorpe.
“The EU enables companies from one member state to bid for contracts in another and bring their own workforce with them on a temporary basis.”
More by this authorPeter Harris
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