Thousands of British workers put down their tools recently to protest the use of foreign crews on a $290-million refinery project on the English east coast. The strikes, an unofficial message of support for the refinery protest, spread from the Lindsey refinery, North Killingholme, to unrelated powerplants and even the Sellafield nuclear fuel facility in Cumbria. Underlying the dispute at the oil refinery, owned by Total U.K. Ltd., are growing concerns that Europe’s free market is working against British workers’ interests. What triggered the Lindsey unofficial strike was December’s arrival of a Sicilian specialty firm on the refinery’s HDS-3 de-sulfurization
The market is generally healthy and steadily growing, and margins are up for large specialty contractors. Further, advances in design tools and owner demand for collaboration are giving subcontractors a seat at the table early on in projects.