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Fawley refinery contractors could strike over ‘insulting’ pay offer as union warns of shutdown

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A UNION has warned of shutdowns at Fawley oil refinery as it balloted 100 contractors on strike action over pay negotiations.

If Unite members agree, the group – who claimed to make up about a third of the contractors at the site – could walk out in April.

The union said some of the workers provided safety critical services and action could lead to shutdowns across the plant, risking fuel supplies from what is the largest refinery in the UK.

Fawley refinery (picture: petertt/123rf.com)
Fawley refinery (picture: petertt/123rf.com)

The workers are employed by three contractors at Fawley: Trant Engineering, Veolia Services and Altrad Services.

In a statement, Unite pointed to inflation at 7.8% and said its members were "stunned" by the "insulting" 2.5% pay offer for the next two years.

The union said it was pressing for a one-year deal 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.”

The A&T contacted Trant, Veolia and Altrad for comment.

An ExxonMobil spokesperson said: “We understand this matter relates to ongoing pay negotiations between members of the Unite the union and their respective employers, which provide third-party contracting services to our operation at Fawley.

“We hope that all parties can work together to reach a swift and amicable resolution.”

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.”

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