Unemployed labourers gather in central London to demand a halt to practices 'excluding British workers'

Unite protesters have gathered outside the offices of Alstom today demanding jobs for British workers.

Unemployed labourers marched under the banner of Unite from the union's offices in Holborn, London, before gathering outside the French firm's UK headquarters.

Around 50 men gathered at the site, waving Unite banners which demanded that Alstom “stop excluding British workers”.

The demonstration was the latest public protest after the wave of wildcat strikes which hit UK power stations and nuclear plants in the last fortnight.

Unite regional officer, Steve Syson said over 700 indigenous workers had applied to work at the Staythorpe power station construction, but that Alstom had taken only one British administration worker.

“We've also heard that Alstom announced around a fortnight ago, that they were going to take on 200 Polish construction workers, when they've got local people on the gates asking for work.

“All we want is a fair and level playing field,” he added.

The union was keen to distance itself from claims that the protests were being supported by the British National Party, who have reportedly used the recent strikes to advertise BNP policies.

Phil Willis, 59, a steel erecter who has been in the industry for over 40 years, stressed: “It's important that people understand this is not about being xenophobic. I have far more in common with workers from Latvia or Portugal than with the employers. We just feel that we should be entitled to a slice of the work which we have had for decades,” he added.

National secretary of Unite, Bob Blackman, said Alstom needed to “completely reverse its position in terms of allowing their subcontractors to exclude UK workers.”

“The men here are angry,” he added. “And they're not looking forward to chasing the dole queue.”

A statement issued by Alstom said it had received “written assurances from both Spanish subcontractors at Staythorpe, FMM and Mompresa, that they will actively consider suitably qualified local workers for work in the event of additional manpower being required.”

It added: “To date our subcontractors FMM and Mompresa have resourced their work packages at Staythorpe with their own existing workforce. We have provided both companies with the job applications of local skilled workers in readiness if they need to recruit additional workers at the site.

Suitably qualified subcontractor companies from within the EU, whether UK based or elsewhere in the EU, all have an equal chance to bid for work packages on Alstom power station projects in the UK. Bids are carefully assessed and fairly awarded based on a number of industry recognised criteria which include a company's track record on delivery to project deadlines, the competiveness of its terms and conditions and proven evidence of technical expertise.”