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Strikes over gas plant safety

Author : Amy Hollamby

18 February 2010

Approximately 500 workers began an unofficial strike on the 16th February due to serious safety concerns at Staythorpe gas power plant currently under construction in Nottinghamshire. Workers believe that scaffolding was tampered with, which consequently led to a breach in safety regulations, and asked for an immediate inspection. Subcontractors disagreed over whether or not a scaffold bar had been temporarily removed in order for poorly trained Spanish labourers to complete a piece of work.

Strikes over gas plant safety
Strikes over gas plant safety

Union leaders believe the migrants have been breaking rules by removing scaffold poles to fit pipework – and turning it into a potential death trap. The mass walkout was sparked when the accused men received a slap on the wrist and were allowed to carry on working at the huge Staythorpe power station.

It is illegal to tamper with scaffolding. If there was any weight on it, that scaffolding would have collapsed. Health and Safety inspectors have launched an investigation to reach an agreement with the British workers.

There is no conclusive evidence that scaffold tampering took place, and furthermore a reconstruction of events showed that the work could have been completed without removing any scaffolding.

Previously there have also been disagreements about differences in pay between British and Italian contractors and job losses, which caused separate unofficial strikes in 2009.

The workers are contractors for Alstom, which is building the £600m Staythorpe plant for German utility giant RWE npower. When completed, the gas-fired plant will be the second biggest in the UK, providing enough energy to power 2m homes.

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