Oil & Gas

Unite ballots around 750 UK oil refinery workers for strike action

Unite the Union is balloting hundreds of engineering staff for strike action at the Grangemouth and Fawley Esso oil refineries as part of a pay dispute.

Unite says that over 450 engineering construction workers at the Grangemouth oil refinery and petrochemicals complex are being balloted.

The union also announced that “around 300” engineering construction workers at the Fawley Esso oil refinery will decide whether to take strike action.

The ballot for industrial action will close in ‘mid-October’, with strikes scheduled to start later that month.

Those being balloted at both sites are employed by contractors under the National Agreement for the Engineering Construction Industry (NAECI).

This follows the workers rejecting a two-year deal for 2024 and 2025 averaging 6% per annum.

‘This offer is completely unacceptable’

During the COVID pandemic, the union members agreed to a pay freeze, in January 2022, they received a two-year pay deal of 2.5 per cent for 2022 and again for 2023.

However, the recently proposed deal, which was rejected, “does not go far enough to restore wages for NAECI workers,” Unite the Union says.

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “This offer is completely unacceptable when the oil industry is awash with profits.

“It does nothing to reverse the shrinking value of these workers’ wages over successive years.

“It also ties these workers into gambling on the economy and inflation in 2024 and 2025 when their finances have already been battered by increasingly unpredictable market forces.”

© Tayfun Salci/ZUMA Press Wire/Shu
Sharon Graham, Unite the Union general secretary. Photo by Tayfun Salci/ZUMA Press Wire/Shutterstock

Unite claims the Engineering Construction Industry Association (ECIA), which negotiates NAECI with the trade unions, refused to reopen talks last year.

To this, Ms Graham said: “Unite stands rock solid with our NAECI members – the ECIA must come back with an acceptable offer.”

Unite national officer Jason Poulter said: “The anger amongst our membership is such that we are balloting for strike action. The ECIA must acknowledge that without a better offer, falling recruitment and retention for NAECI roles will only get worse.

“Any disruption caused by potential strikes lies squarely at their door – a much-improved offer needs to be put forward if this dispute is not to escalate into industrial action.”

Grangemouth owner INEOS said: ” We are aware that Unite the Union are in pay negotiations regarding their NAECI members with their employer, the EICA.

“We are also aware that Unite The Union are to hold a nation-wide ballot for industrial action of their NAECI members.

“This is a national matter relating to contracting companies and their employees. It would therefore be inappropriate for us to comment on these matters.”

Fawley Esso oil refinery owner ExxonMobil was also contacted for comment.

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