Humber Refinery workers walk out in safety row

Humber Refinery
Image caption The Humber Refinery processes a quarter of a million barrels of oil a day into petrol and diesel

Hundreds of contract workers have downed tools at an oil refinery in North Lincolnshire over "safety concerns".

Phillips 66 said at least 450 workers took "unofficial action over communication issues" at its Humber Refinery in South Killingholme.

But the GMB union said up to 600 walked out over safety concerns after a gas leak last week which injured two men.

The refinery processes barrels of oil into petrol and diesel.

Phillips 66 confirmed there had been "a small gas release on a unit during some routine maintenance work at the Humber Refinery" last Wednesday.

In a statement, the company said: "Our emergency response team responded and the county ambulance was called. As a precaution two contractors were taken to the local county hospital who were later released to return to work.

"We are investigating the cause of the release. Operations were not interrupted."

Safety 'reassurance' wanted

The company employs 1,000 contractors and 750 staff. Mechanical engineers, scaffolders, welders and pipe-fitters are among the workers that have walked out.

GMB union officer Shaune Clarkson said: "There's roughly between 500 and 600 men that have walked off the site.

"All we want is a reassurance that the site is safe [and] some safety issues addressed. Unfortunately, the employer has failed to do that and because of that then men have reacted.

"This is the straw that's broke the camel's back."

He said members employed at the refinery were due to meet at 08:00 GMT on Tuesday.

A company spokeswoman said: "We can confirm that earlier today, at approximately midday, a number of contract workers left site in unofficial action.

"We have been in ongoing dialogue with contractor management over the last week to discuss their issues, many of which relate to onsite communications, and will continue to work with them to reach a satisfactory conclusion."

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