Petrofac managers have moved to calm the situation at the Total Gas Plant following a dispute about accommodation at the Sella Ness facility erupted today.
Around 150 engineers working on the project walked off site after seeking parity with their supervisors over their accommodation in the isles.
The GMB union claims Petrofac construction engineers walked out at 11.30am. It follows calls by the workers for equal treatment to supervising staff, who receive £50 a night accommodation allowance for room-sharing, according to the GMB. Lower-grade workers do not receive the same allowance.
The union says the workers who made the request work seven days a week for 21 out of every 28 days from 7am to 5pm on the new on-shore gas terminal on Total’s behalf. It claims that, when the request was denied, the engineers agreed to work a “normal week” from Monday to Friday. They were asked to leave the site as a result.
However, the situation softened this afternoon when workers agreed to return to work after learning that representatives from the GMB and Unite unions would head north this week to try to find a resolution and Petrofac said it was keen to resolve “any workplace issues”.
A new accommodation barge Kalmar will arrive in Lerwick, under charter to Petrofac, and is expected to berth at Albert Dock, providing accommodation for up to 22o workers.
A Petrofac spokesman said: “Petrofac is committed to running a successful project in Shetland whilst ensuring that suitable accommodation is available for our workforce and doesn’t place undue strain on the local infrastructure.
“Petrofac is very keen that all parties continue to work together effectively, including to resolve any workplace issues that may arise.”