Construction sites countrywide hit as staff walk out in sympathy with protesters at alleged exclusion of UK workers

Unofficial strikes are continuing across the country over the use of foreign workers on UK construction sites.

Sellafield was the latest site to be hit by the protest, as around 1,300 contract workers walked out yesterday.

The move followed a meeting of mechanical contractors early yesterday who agreed to support staff at the Lindsey oil refinery in Lincolnshire, where the strikes originated. Employees there walked out last week in protest at the employment of Italian workers.

Talks have resumed in an attempt to resolve the dispute, but contractors at Longannet power station in Fife voted to continue their support. They will meet again on Friday.

At Stanlow oil refinery in Cheshire, up to 500 have walked out in sympathy. Workers at the Heysham nuclear plant, Grangemouth oil refinery in central Scotland and power stations in Warrington and Staythorpe have also walked out.

Last week thousands went on strike in a show of solidarity with workers protesting over a contract for work to expand the Total Lindsey refinery, which was subcontracted by main contractor Jacobs to Italian firm Irem, which chose to use its own workforce.

Total maintains it is not discriminating against British workers.

Yesterday, mediation service Acas met Total managers, main contractor Jacobs and union leaders in Scunthorpe on Monday. The talks will resume later today.

Striking workers have been urged to return to work by business secretary Lord Mandelson while discussions are held.