A strike by workers at ExxonMobil’s Fawley oil refinery has been averted after a deal was agreed between the Unite union and Italian company Nico Industrial Services, which employs workers at the plant.

Unite said it had won a ‘pay parity’ victory in the dispute that saw foreign workers being paid half as much as UK workers at the Southampton site.

As a result, a second 24-hour strike by about 20 specialist workers on July 27 at the Esso refinery, and an overtime ban, was called off. The workers had previously staged a 24-hour strike earlier this month.

Unite said that the dispute centred on the fact that Nico workers, mainly Bulgarians and Italians, were being paid about £48 for a 10 hour-day, while the 270 other workers on the site, employed by other contractors, were on about £125-a-day. British workers employed by Nico were also paid the £125-a-day rate.

Unite regional officer Malcolm Bonnett said: “We are pleased to announce that after talks with the company a new ‘pay parity’ deal at the Fawley oil refinery has been agreed. All the workers at Nico will now be paid the same rate for the job.”