Fuel supplies to filling stations could be hit this spring should workers at Exxon’s giant Fawley refinery on the UK’s south coast take strike action over what they describe as an `insulting’ pay offer, Unite the union has said.
A ballot of 100 workers, around one third of all contractors on the site, gets underway with strike action poised to begin in April. With some of the workers providing safety critical services, strike action could lead to shut downs across the plant.
Unite members employed by three contractors on the Fawley, UK site - Trant Engineering Limited, Veolia Services and Altrad Services – are apparently stunned by the 2.5% pay offer for the next two years when the real cost of living is running at 7.8 % and expected to climb higher.
Unite is pressing for a one year deal that is in line with inflation.
Unite general secretary Sharon Graham, said: “The employers need to take back this insulting pay offer, which is actually a cut, and think again. Our members have mounting bills to pay like everyone else, and with runaway inflation there is no way we will accept a derisory 2.5% for this workforce.
“This workforce did all that was asked of them by Exxon during the pandemic, changing shifts and losing out on vital overtime payments. They deserve so much than this from Exxon, which is making money from oil and gas hand over fist but is now pressurising the employers to cut our members’ wages. This is just unacceptable.
“Unite is totally committed to improving the jobs, pay and conditions of our members so our members at the Fawley site have our full backing in their fight for fair wages.”
Unite regional officer Malcolm Bonnett added: “These skilled workers put in a serious shift in during the pandemic to ensure that Fawley stayed resilient. They changed their working patterns and lost a lot in wages so they’re totally stunned to find that this is how Exxon wants the employers to repay them.
“Exxon and the employers know what needs to be done to avert a strike this spring. Table a respectful offer to this workforce so we can focus on the planned redevelopment of the Fawley site and start the essential work of harmonising pay and conditions across the trades. We are not prepared to put up any longer with a situation where workers fall behind on wages year on year and do not enjoy the same full sick pay as managers.”