Wildcat strike brings renewable plant construction to halt

6 February 2014
By Edd Gent
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The gasification plant being built by Foster Wheeler for Air Products

The gasification plant being built by Foster Wheeler for Air Products

Work on a new power station in the North East of England has ground to a halt as hundreds of workers stage a wildcat strike.

A row over pay at the site in Billingham on Teesside, where an energy-from-waste plant is being built, saw about 250 workers, including pipe fitters and welders, walk out yesterday, and continue with the unofficial action today, joined by scaffolders.

The dispute is over bonus payments after work was affected by the bad weather, but a spokesman for Air Products, which will run the plant, said work was continuing despite the action, and the company was hopeful that the dispute would be resolved in the next few days.

A company statement said: "Foster Wheeler, the main engineering, procurement and construction management contractor at Air Products' Tees Valley renewable energy facility at Billingham, has confirmed that certain construction contractor workers have taken unofficial industrial action.

“The workers, mainly mechanical and piping, are expected to return to work at the site by Monday February 10. We believe the strike action has not been sanctioned by their trade unions nor has a ballot of the workforce been taken.

"Air Products, Foster Wheeler and the construction contractor management have held a series of talks with union representatives in recent weeks and all parties are pressing for an early resolution for the grievances submitted through the National Agreement for the Engineering Construction Industry resolution procedure.

"Work continues unaffected throughout the rest of the site. Construction of the Tees Valley Renewable Energy Facility started in 2012 and is due to enter commercial operation later this year."

Air Products claims the 50MW energy-from-waste plant will generate electricity for up to 50,000 homes while diverting up to 350,000 tonnes of waste from landfill. It predicts it will also create up to 700 jobs during the construction period and 50 permanent jobs when it is completed.

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