A vote on the deal will be held among workers on Thursday.

Compromise deal

"We've been offered what we went in for, really, which is 50/50," Tony Ryan, a member of the strike committee, said.

"The stewards' recommendation tomorrow will be for the lads to return to work."

Keith Hazelwood of the GMB Union, who has been involved in the talks, was more cautious, saying they would have to see what workers made of the deal.

"We've come up with a revised deal that will be put to a vote among the workers on Thursday morning," he said.

"We'll have to wait and see what they decide tomorrow."

Gordon Brown, Britain's prime minister, urged workers at the plant to accept a compromise deal.

"There's an Acas proposal that has been put to the workforce and I hope they will now accept that despite their reservations," Brown said in parliament.

Week of unrest

The Lindsey dispute has led to sympathy strikes involving thousands of workers at other energy sites around the UK.

Union bosses hope that a commitment to give more British workers jobs at the refinery will be sufficient to put an end to a week of unrest at energy plants countrywide.

The foreign workers were employed by Italian group Irem SpA, which won a sub-contract from American engineering group Jacobs, which itself was awarded a contract by Total to carry out the work at the Lindsey refinery.

Irem brought in around 200 foreign contractors, following a process that Total have said meets European Union and British labour law.

Italian labour leaders and politicians have assailed Britain over the dispute.

Under European Union law, Italian and Portuguese workers have the same right to work in Britain as British citizens do, just as Britons have the right to work in other EU nations.

But it is not clear under EU law how far countries can go to protect jobs for their own nationals.