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Let's Start The Week With Another Construction Industry Workers' Demo As Foreign Workers Are Being Used

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Up to 100 people are holding a second demonstration over the use of foreign labour at a construction site.

Unemployed construction workers from the Unite and GMB unions have gathered at Uskmouth, Newport, where a gas-fired power station is being built.

The unions are calling on employers to honour a commitment to find 80% of staff from among local jobless people.

Site contractor Siemens called the protest "inappropriate" and said 81.5% of employees were British or Irish.

It said it made every effort to attract local applicants.

The protesters were blocking the road to the construction site from early on Monday morning, BBC Wales' business correspondent Nick Servini reports.

A mass meeting has been called and is expected to attract trade unionists from across the UK.

Text messages have been sent to workers across the country urging them to attend.

The first protest involving around 40 people was held three weeks ago early in the morning at the plant site.

It makes good business sense to employ that local labour in the current economic circumstances.

Bryan Godsell, Unite

A spokesman for the Unite union said at the time 150 overseas workers were involved in building the gas-fired power station for Severn Energy.

The 800 megawatt gas-fired plant is being built at a cost of £400m for Severn Energy, which currently runs the coal-fired Uskmouth power station next to the construction site. It is due to open in 2010.

Bryan Godsell from Unite said the demonstrators were demanding "fairness not favours".

"We simply expect the employers on the Uskmouth site to honour the commitments made on their behalf to the local community by the client at the planning stage," he said.

"Unite the Union is not opposed to the use of foreign labour in the UK. But, we are fundamentally opposed to the exclusion of local workers from local sites in the UK.

"A huge pool of highly skilled labour exists in Newport and south Wales area. It makes good business sense to employ that local labour in the current economic circumstances.

"They are hard working and efficient. They are cost effective. Given the chance they and their families would invest their income in the local economy.

"Transient labour strips income out of the local economy."

A spokeswoman for Siemens said: "We sympathise with local people affected by unemployment but do not feel it is appropriate to target this site with a protest as we have gone to considerable lengths to attract local suppliers and local job applications.

"Local companies have been invited to tender for the work and encouraged to attend local supplier days."

She said 81.5% of employees who were currently safety-inducted to work on the Uskmouth site were British or Irish.

She added the company abided by the National Agreement for the Engineering Construction Industry (NAECI) and had an explicit policy of using local contractors wherever possible and recruited individuals it believed were most suitable to perform the tasks in question.

I hope they're paying their taxes to pay for UK workers to sit on the dole.

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Construction work is invariably let to the lowest bidder. The lowest bidder must source his labour as cheaply as possible.

If that means non english speaking punjabi labourers then that's what they'll use.

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