Migrant workers at Esso's Fawley oil refinery in Southampton struck today, Thursday, against bosses who pay them half as much as British workers.
The 20 specialists are employed by contractor Nico, and are mainly Italian and Bulgarian. They are members of the Unite union.
Unite regional officer Malcolm Bonnett told Socialist Worker, "There's been a good turnout with about 15 people on the picket line this morning. Other workers on the site are fully behind the strikers, there's a lot of sympathy."
Emergency talks were set to take place today, with another 24 hour strike on Wednesday 27 July and an overtime ban from 18-29 July planned if these are not successful.
The workers get about £48 for a 10 hour-day, compared to £125 for the 270 other workers on the site, employed by other contractors, and British workers employed by Nico. The higher rate reflects national and regional agreements that bosses want to drive down.
The strikers clean out catalyst converter tanks and their strike slows up refining.
Instead of lining up behind attacks on freedom of movement, supporting migrant workers' action is the way to stop bosses undercutting wages.
Malcolm said, “Unite won’t stand by and see foreign workers being ripped off in such a grotesque manner. We won’t countenance a race to the bottom in wages by unscrupulous bosses.”
Malcolm said the strikers had already received messages of solidarity from other workers. "It's really good to be able to read them out to the pickets," he added.