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British Leader Condemns Strikes Against Foreign Workers

Prime Minister Gordon Brown has condemned the strikes spreading across Britain protesting the employment of foreign European workers, while unemployment soars in the country.

What began as a protest last week against legal foreign European construction workers at an oil refinery on the east coast of England quickly spread to at least a dozens different locations at energy plants throughout Britain.

The wildcat strikes have come under the backdrop of rapidly rising unemployment.

The question is will those strikes be escalating in the coming days.

Interviewed on BBC Television Sunday, Prime Minister Gordon Brown urged calm.

"That is not the right thing to do and it is not defensible. What we have set up is a process to deal with the questions people have been asking about what has happened in this particular instance," said Mr. Brown.

The independent mediation service has been asked to step in to investigate and help resolve the matter. Prime Minister Brown says while the strikes in his view are wrong, he acknowledges that job security is big concern for many right now.

"The worries that they have about what is happening to the international economy are real. I mean, people are worried about what is happening to jobs in every part of our country. I am determined that we take action early so that jobs that can be saved, can be saved and we have made some arrangements to do so," he said. "Where people lose their jobs, we help them back into jobs as quickly as possible."

Under E.U. law, European workers are generally free to work in other member states and they can accept lower pay than local employees if they wish.

In this case, British protesters say the Italian and Portuguese construction workers at a refinery in Lincolnshire are taking jobs that Britons should have been offered, but were not.

Tensions have been rising rapidly as Britain's economy shrinks and jobs go away. According to the International Monetary Fund, the British economy will contract by about 2.8 percent this year. That would make it the worst-hit country among the Group of Seven leading industrialized nations.