Protesters under a slogan of “Fawley oil refinery – made in England” demonstrated outside the plant yesterday morning amid fears about cheap foreign labour.

Jobless oil workers were among those handing out leaflets as the union Unite demanded answers from refinery operators Exxon Mobil about a maintenance contract awarded to German firm Voight Ermo. The work was traditionally carried out by locals.

The union wants to know whether the foreign workers are being paid the agreed pay rates.

They also want fears allayed over some former employees being blacklisted. Unite regional officer Malcolm Bonnett said: “There were tailbacks of up to two miles. The police turned up but no arrests were made.”

Exxon Mobil said the large majority of staff was British and that pay rates were a matter for agreement between the subcontractor and their staff.