Warnings are being sounded about far-right involvement in the Lindsey wildcat strike over foreign workers, with the deputy leader of the British National party telling politics.co.uk: "We'll be the last people there."
Trade unionists and anti-fascist activists have been alerted to the growing BNP presence around the picket line. The strike spread across the country yesterday, with heavy snow doing nothing to stop over 300 people gathering around the site as the sun rose.
"We'll be there for the foreseeable future," Simon Darby, deputy leader of the BNP, confirmed to politics.co.uk. "We'll be the last people there."
He continued: "Unfortunately Labour have sent in the Socialist Workers party storm troopers who have been aggressive against our people. Police were supportive of us, but the left got rather aggressive. The police said 'we can't guarantee your safety'. The last thing we want is clashes with the left on TV."
That particular event carried a different interpretation from anti-fascist organisation Searchlight. A spokesman told politics.co.uk: "The local trade union people have gone to the police and said we don't want these people anywhere near the picket line. They've got nothing to do with the dispute. The police said to the BNP 'if you bring your truck to the picket line we'll do something about it'. They were forced to move to about half a mile away."
Yesterday the party started handing out leaflets about the strike.
"It's all over the place," the spokesman said. "It has lots of typos but the basic reason it doesn't make any sense is that they don't understand what the trade unions are about."
The Socialist party, which has members on the strike committee, is also handing out a leaflet tomorrow, but one targeted at the Italian workers brought in to work. Written in Italian, the leaflet says Italian workers have more in common with their British counterparts than Italian management.
The BNP, which is at the site in its 'truth truck' (nicknamed the 'liars' lorry' by anti-fascist activists), are understood to be using a BNP-based union called Solidarity' to become involved in the strike, which expanded to include Sellafield nuclear power plant workers yesterday. Solidarity is a registered trade union formed in 2006. Its last returns to the certification office said it had only 100 members, although that number has almost certainly risen slightly since then. It does not have a certificate of independence, meaning it can't represent members at tribunals or in court and employers are under no obligation to recognise it.
The party has dedicated large sections of their website to the strike, with photos of Italian workers showing cameramen the V-sign displayed prominently beneath the slogan: "British job s for British workers – When we say it we mean it."
The response of the unions to a BNP infiltration has been mixed. A spokesman for the GMB union told politics.co.uk "We held mass meeting with our members. We recommended our members go back to work. They decided not to take our advice. You're talking to me about something that's not our responsibility."
But a political officer for the union took a different stance, telling politics.co.uk: "We want to make sure the BNP don't hijack this to peddle their hate. This is not a dispute concerning immigration or asylum seekers. It's completely different to that. I've not heard people say they can see a lot of BNP activity at the moment although I acknowledge there is some."
He added: "We'll make sure that members and people on picket lines are alerted to the fact they will be about and they will try to recruit. We need to be smart enough to know they will be there and act against it."
Police plans to bus in the Italian and Portuguese workers today are being treated as a statement of intent by strikers, with many saying it is reminiscent of the miners' strike in the 1980s.