Socialist Worker

Migrant workers win equal pay at Fawley oil refinery

by Dave Sewell
Issue No. 2514

Workers at Fawley strike earlier this month

Workers at Fawley strike earlier this month (Pic: Malcolm Bonnett)


Striking migrant workers have won equal pay from bosses at Esso’s Fawley oil refinery near Southampton.

They had been set to hold their second 24-hour walkout today, Wednesday. But their Unite union called it off last night after contractor Nico agreed to meet their demands.

The workers, mainly Italian and Bulgarian migrants, will now receive £125 a day like the site’s other workers and Nico employees elsewhere.

They had previously been on less than half this rate—£48 for a ten hour day.

Unite regional officer Malcolm Bonnett told Socialist Worker, “We got a result there—the strike was the key.”

The strike involved around 20 specialist workers. Their 160 percent pay rise will be backdated to last September and their union will be recognised for collective bargaining.

Discriminate

Though a small dispute, the strike is a warning to other bosses who discriminate against migrant workers.

Malcolm called it a “victory for fairness in the workplace and pay parity”. He said, “A combination of our members’ solidarity, support from other Fawley workers and the media attention all contributed to breaking the logjam.”

He added, “I’d like to think that other construction companies would now look again before taking workers on terms that are less favourable.”

It is in stark contrast to the message from politicians, and some in the labour movement, who claim migration drives down wages.

Bosses drive down wages—and it takes solidarity, not scapegoating, to beat them.


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