Lab technicians in dispute over pay

A fresh bout of industrial action has taken place at Sullom Voe – this time involving lab technicians at the oil terminal.

Workers for oil lab inspection company Intertek last week staged a one hour strike over pay which, they say, has not kept pace with other contractors.

The short protest will have done little, if anything, to dent Sullom Voe production. But union leaders say further action could follow if their concerns are not addressed.

John Taylor of Unite
John Taylor of Unite

Unite’s John Taylor said: “Over the years everybody else’s wages on site have increased and their’s have not kept pace with that.

“The initial idea is to highlight their case, [and] not to make a difference. It’s to bring home … the dramatic loss of wages they’ve suffered over the last 10 years.

“The workforce are going to wait for a week to see if there’s any response and if not take further industrial action.”

The strike is another dispute in the sector following the separate and long-running row among gas plant workers involved in the Petrofac project for French oil giant Total.

Members voted last week to cancel planned strikes over shared accommodation and travel allowances.

They will now vote again over a £15 a day offer which was put forward by plant management. Union officials and shop stewards had recommended the offer to members.

Mr Taylor said union members who had not been able to take part in the ballot wanted to make sure their opinions were heard.

“Some concern was shown by people who were off on leave that they weren’t able to have a say in the decision to take industrial action,” he said.

“That was considered by the shop stewards and the workforce and they’ve decided to go for the ballot.

“There’s always 25 per cent of the workforce on leave at any point in time.

“We thought it was a reasonable offer under the circumstances. We’re glad that it’s going out to consultation with all the membership.”

An internal ballot is running for a nine day period to ensure all members on the shift rotation are covered.

Meanwhile, the cruise ship Ocean Endeavour arrived in Lerwick at the weekend.

She will provide extra accommodation for around 250 gas plant workers.

But Petrofac have insisted the decision to take her over is not in response to the industrial dispute. She is instead being brought to deal with growing numbers on site.


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