Construction workers from around the UK converge at Olympic park for unofficial protest

Hundreds of construction workers gathered outside the Olympic park site in Stratford today demanding “British jobs for British workers”.

Several sites were forced to close around the country, including Lindsey oil refinery and Easington gas plant, as workers descended on the 2012 site in London.

A policeman at the site estimated that around 500 people were present at the protest.

London 2012 Olympic Village during construction March 2009
The Olympic site was the venue for the unofficial protest

Mechanical fitter Frankie Clive, 41, warned that the demonstration was not a dispute about foreign workers.

“We're more than happy to work alongside foreigners,” he said. “We just want our bosses to give us a chance and employ British labour as well.”

Concerns were raised over the lack of union representation, after Unite distanced itself from the unofficial action for legal reasons.

But Unite members told Building they had started to lose faith in the union and were disgusted at its lack of support.

Speaker Keith Gibson, a worker at Lindsey oil refinery, told the crowd: “The silence from our union is deafening.”

Protesters will gather outside the Houses of Parliament later today in support of an early day motion to ban the use of blacklists, put forward by MP John McDonnell.

Responding to the workers’ protests against the use of agency workers and alleged breaches of labour agreements on the project, Tom Hadley, director of external relations at the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) commented:"Agencies have a vital role to play to ensure that the Olympic venues are delivered on budget and on time. Our experience of the Olympic site is that all contractors and workers are working to high standards. Recruitment agencies are working with Jobcentre Plus, training organisations and others to ensure that local people have the opportunity to work onsite."

An ODA spokesman said: "We are providing jobs and training at a difficult time for the economy, exceeding our targets on the employment of local people. We work closely with the UK Borders Agency to ensure all those working on site are legally entitled to do so. There are high levels of direct employment on the Olympic park and we have a positive agreement with the unions representing construction workers on site which includes national wage rates. The site has an excellent health and safety record and first class working conditions.”