date: 30 January 2009
embargo: For immediate release
Commenting on the dispute centring on the Lindsey Oil Refinery in North Lincolnshire, TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber said:
'With big job losses announced every day, workers are fearful for their jobs. Refinery workers are understandably and rightly angry at employers who have not given British based workers the opportunity to apply for new jobs. The employer will be in breach of the law if they restrict any future vacancies to workers of a particular nationality or location.
'But unions are also clear that the anger should be directed at employers, not the Italian workers. No doubt some of the more distasteful elements in our towns and cities will try to use the fears of workers to stir up hatred and xenophobia, but I am confident that union members will direct their anger at the employers who have caused this dispute with their apparent attempt to undercut the wages, conditions and union representation of existing staff.
'Unions have fought hard for decent conditions for migrant workers and back the free movement of labour within the EU, but that is entirely compatible with wanting to see new jobs recruited fairly, with everyone given the chance to apply and be judged on the basis of their skills.
'There is much concern among unions at recent decisions of the European Court of Justice - particularly the Viking-Laval cases - that appear to allow companies to undermine existing pay, working conditions and pensions by moving workforces around Europe in this way. European governments must close this legal loophole that drives a huge hole through social Europe.'
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