Gas plant workers cease work in protest

Around 1,000 workers downed tools at the Shetland Gas Plant this morning (Wednesday) in an unofficial dispute over travelling money,

The walk-out was also blamed for the cancellation of a planned visit to the plant by Prime Minister David Cameron.

Workers regarded as “resident” by Petrofac are not eligible for a £15 day bonus paid to the “travelling” workforce, who are the men who stay in barges and ships in Lerwick.

The travelling bonus was awarded following a dispute at the end of last year which also focussed on workers having to share cabins in the floating accommodation.

Mr Cameron’s entourage was to have visited the plant at 11am this morning, but there was no signs of the visitors at the gas plant gates by 11.30.

Unconfirmed reports were that the visit had been cancelled owing to the strike, while a source close to the PM would only say that his schedule had always been subject to change and that mist had prompted an earlier departure from Scatsta to Glasgow, where he is due to open the Commonwealth Games.

According to one gas plant worker, who declined to be named, the workforce were unified in their stance that the bonus should be paid to all workers who have to travel to the Sullom Voe plant.

Around 1,000 workers had gathered outside the plant’s management offices to voice their support for the resident workers’ claim.

He said that Petrofac had insisted in ongoing talks that no bonus would be paid to the resident workers and that strike action would result in mass sacking. The striking workers were awaiting the outcome of management deliberations before resuming work.

The worker said: “I think it’s wrong. It’s very discriminatory”. And it went against the many promises made by Petrofac to local workers before construction started.

He added that because of the delay of “weeks and weeks” in organising an official union sanctioned ballot, an unofficial workers poll had been unanimous in favour of immediate industrial action.

Gas plant workers are mainly represented by the GMB and Unite unions. Workers from subcontractors were also involved.

The Prime Minister’s visit was purely coincidental, he added, a claim borne out by security staff who said they had no knowledge of the visit until yesterday.

A Petrofac spokesman said: “We’re very disappointed with what appears to be opportunistic, unauthorised action.

“We take the welfare of our staff very seriously and in previous disputes we have worked hard with staff and trades unions to resolve the situation.

“However, this is very different. The action doesn’t appear to be supported by the trades unions and has completely ignored the formal process for dispute resolution.”


Add Your Comment
  • David Spence

    • July 24th, 2014 11:50

    This is a joke, isn’t it? Workers want to be paid to travel to and from work ?

    They get free accommodation, free meals during working hours, a good wage and they want more.

    I would like to see these workers dictate their terms and conditions of employment to an employer down south on mainland UK.

    Boooooo Hoooo so what if they are working away from home………they took the job knowing the conditions. If they are not happy working in Shetland getting all the perks they do, unlike most other working people, then there is the boat going south……….good bye.

    • Robert Duncan

      • July 24th, 2014 16:49

      This sounds more like the reasoning of a “vile Tory” than anybody with socialist sensibilities, Mr Spence. Working classes trying to recover some of the wealth they help create from their managers and superiors? Back in your box, subordinates, and be happy you’ve a hot meal!

      Perhaps you’re only left leaning for your own gain.

  • Rachel Buchan

    • July 24th, 2014 17:51

    This is about workers who live here, who are rightfully annoyed that they do not get the £15 per day bonus that workers from south get.

  • David Spence

    • July 25th, 2014 0:22

    I see your point Robert, but I do think it is a bit ridiculous to expect your employer to pay for your transportation to and from work…….albeit in the form of compensation…….I would guess 99.9% of the time, most employee’s pay for their own transportation whether their own or via train/bus fares. Why should the work being carried out at Sullom Voe be any different? It is not so much about political principles, but the fact that the workforce or some of them are getting compensated for a task they should not be getting compensated for……………..look at it from the perspective of the majority of people working.

    I also see your point Rachel, but I would not pay to anybody employed at the site for transportation, whether local or brought in labour from the south. I mean, where would it end………..the company paying for people who reside here their rent, mortgage etc etc just because people brought in from the south not having to pay for their accommodation and all the other necessary expenses that go along with it………ok, may be not as luxurious as what people residing here have…….but lol

    • Rachel Buchan

      • July 25th, 2014 20:07

      And I see your point too David. But the point is not “where will it end?” The point is that some workers are not getting a bonus that others are getting (just because their homes are in a different area), and that’s not fair.

  • Rob gibb

    • July 25th, 2014 9:08

    It’s the guys who are travelling from all over the country England, Scotland Wales, Poland, Portugal who are threatening to walk out so your fellow islanders get the same as us. Wer fighting for your own people and some people are still complaining!!

    • Neil Anderson

      • July 25th, 2014 19:06

      Good on you mate , people often don’t fully understand what they have read hence the daft replies , all the best Rob 🙂

  • Ali Inkster

    • July 25th, 2014 16:40

    Pay nae heed ta spency Rob, nane o wis do.


Add Your Comment

Please note, it is the policy of The Shetland Times to publish comments and letters from named individuals only. Both forename and surname are required.

Comments are moderated. Contributors must observe normal standards of decency and tolerance for the opinions of others.

The views expressed are those of contributors and not of The Shetland Times.

The Shetland Times reserves the right to decline or remove any contribution without notice or stating reason.

Comments are limited to 200 words but please email longer articles or letters to for consideration and include a daytime telephone number and your address. If emailing information in confidence please put "Not for publication" in both the subject line and at the top of the main message.

200 words left

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


Get Latest News in Your Inbox

Join the The Shetland Times mailing list to get one daily email update at midday on what's happening in Shetland.