Workers wild cat walk out

About 200 workers downed tools and staged a walk-out at a £20m biofuels plant which is being built in the Fens. Contractors building the refinery alongside British Sugar's plant at Wissington, near Stoke Ferry, say there is no drinking water or food available to them on the site, which is four miles from the nearest shop.

About 200 workers yesterday downed tools and staged a walk-out at a £20m biofuels plant which is being built in the Fens.

Contractors building the refinery alongside British Sugar's plant at Wissington, near Stoke Ferry, say there is no drinking water or food available to them on the site, which is four miles from the nearest shop.

“We had a meeting at 10am, there's water on the site but it's only for hand washing,” said one. “The canteen lady's gone on holiday so there's no food or drink on the site.

“There's a café at the sugar factory but British Sugar say it's only for their staff and we're not allowed to use it.

“Between 180 and 200 have walked out. They're all different trades like scaffolders, welders, pipe fitters, crane drivers, electricians and painters.”

The biofuels plant, which is due to come on stream later this year, is being developed by Associated British Foods, in partnership with BP and DuPont.

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It will produce an additive called biobutanol from locally-grown sugar beet, which can be mixed with fossil fuels to help reduce demand for them and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Last night British Sugar said talks were under way in a bid to end the dispute.

“I understand some people did leave the site this morning,” a spokesman said. “They are staff employed by contractors on the site and we are working with that supplier to ensure that the issue is resolved as quickly as possible.”

The spokesman said the British Sugar canteen had been placed off limits because it was too small to accommodate the extra workers being employed on the site to build the the biofuels plant.

But he added arrangements had been made for biofuels workers to order food from the factory canteen, which would be delivered to them on site.