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SANTA CLARA, Calif. — Banks collecting billions of dollars in federal bailout money sought government permission to bring thousands of foreign workers to the United States for high-paying jobs, according to an Associated Press review of visa applications.
The dozen banks receiving the biggest rescue packages, totaling more than $150 billion, requested visas for more than 21,800 foreign workers over the past six years for positions that included senior vice presidents, corporate lawyers, junior investment analysts and human resources specialists. The average annual salary for those jobs was $90,721, nearly twice the median income for all American households.
We knew this was happening, but these banks should be required to hire Americans as a stipulation in getting bail out money.
Strikes over foreign workers spread to Sellafield as Mandelson ups stakes
Lord Mandelson today raised the stakes in the row over foreign workers by declaring that "no laws were broken" by the company which brought over Italian and Portuguese employees.
As a new wave of wildcat strikes hit Britain, the Business Secretary appeared to pre-empt the findings of Acas, the conciliation service, which has been asked by government to determine if any laws were broken at the Total refinery in Lincolnshire.
The Government's stance appears to have inflamed workers at energy and construction sites around Britain. Amongst the walkouts this morning include:
- Hundreds of contract workers at Sellafield nuclear site, which the management said they expected to last a day.
Times Archive, 1984: Miners' strike spreads to 100 pits
Militant picketing at pitheads in South Wales and Scotland yesterday brought out on strike more than half of the coal industry's labour force as Yorkshire miners began an indefinate stoppage
- Around 700 contractors at the Grangemouth oil refinery in central Scotland, who took unofficial action on Friday, walked out again today. They also decided they would return to work tomorrow.
- Two hundred workers at Fiddlers Ferry power station in Widnes, Cheshire, also walked out in support this morning
- The Longannet power station in Scotland was also hit.
- Contract workers at the Heysham nuclear power station in Lancashire and a site at Staythorpe near Newark in Nottinghamshire also joined the strikes
Speaking on the BBC, Lord Mandelson rebutted union allegations that employment laws were broken and Portuguese and Italians were being paid less than the going rate, adding Acas "would confirm" this later today.
The peer also defended the company, saying the contract at the centre of the dispute was originally awarded to a British firm but it did not fulfil it so it was given to an Italian company which then drew on its own workforce.
His stance is likely to escalate the row with the unions, who are angry at the ability of companies to bring in foreign workers for below the union-negotiated going rate at construction and energy plants around the country.
The row caught national attention on Friday after an unofficial walkout by workers at the Total's Lindsey refinery in Lincolnshire over the arrival of the foreign workers which sparked copycat protests across Britain.