Policeman killed in car bomb blast in Spain’s Basque region

Protesters gathered outside Total's Lindsey oil refinery on Friday, June 19, after hundreds of striking workers were sacked.
A car bomb exploded Friday morning in Spain’s northern Basque region, killing a person in the vehicle, officials said.

The steel workers started striking last Thursday after one contractor axed 51 jobs while another employer on the same site was recruiting. The dispute has prompted a number of wildcat strikes at power stations and oil refineries around the United Kingdom. The workers’ union GMB, which represents around half of the sacked workers, estimates that, as of late yesterday, up to 4,000 other workers at four power stations and three oil refineries had walked off the job in sympathy. Phil Davies, national secretary and head of the manufacturing section at the GMB Union, told CNN the situation was likely to escalate unless Total agreed to start talks with union representatives today. In a statement on its Web site, Total says it and the main contract company, Jacobs, had repeatedly sought to encourage workers to return to work at the Lindsey oil refinery so that proper negotiations could take place, adding “it is frustrating and disappointing that these attempts have failed.” The oil company has given employees who want to return to work on the HDS-3 construction project until the end of Monday to reapply for their jobs. They represent around half the 1200 workers currently employed on the project.

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Phil Davies told CNN the invitation to a job interview would only stoke workers’ anger. “I think that would just humiliate people to be quite honest and it will put their backs up and make them more determined to win it,” he said. He said union representatives were in the process of gathering information to hold an official industrial ballot, a process that could take six weeks. The Press Association published one sacked Lindsey worker’s appeal for support from fellow union members: “We are asking for support from workers across the country which I am sure will be given. Total will soon realize they have unleashed a monster.” “It is disgraceful that this has happened without any consultation. It is also unlawful and it makes me feel sick. If they get away with this the rest of the industry will crumble and it will be like a turkey cull. Workers will be decimated and unskilled employees from abroad will be brought in on the cheap, treated like scum and sent back after the job is done,” PA reported. Workers at the Lindsey oil refinery walked off the job for more than one week in early February to protest against the hiring of hundreds of foreign workers. They returned to work after the unions and the company gave assurances that half the jobs would go to British workers.