Construction workers in unofficial walkout at Plymouth power plant site over rumours of Polish replacements

Hundreds of building workers walked out on strike at a power station construction site in Plymouth yesterday after claims that laid-off labourers were to be replaced by migrant workers.

Up to 350 people contracted by French firm Alstom to work on the building the Langage Energy Centre site walked out on Thursday morning after claiming that Polish workers were to be brought in to replace 16 men laid off on Wednesday.

The £400m gas-fired plant, which is the first major power station to be built in the UK for five years, will be run by Centrica when completed in 2009.

One of the laid-off men, Brian Mills, told the BBC that he and 15 other workers were told on Wednesday there was no more work for them. A representative for the union Unite, he had only begun what he believed was a six-month contract only three days earlier.

Mills told the BBC that other union members decided to go on unofficial strike after hearing that management were allegedly to bring in Polish workers to be brought in to replace them.

The unofficial strike action ended on Thursday afternoon after the laid-off men were told they would receive a pay-out.