Unite the union has today confirmed it will hold a ballot for industrial action at the St Fergus Gas plant.
The dispute relates to safety concerns and attacks on the terms and conditions of Unite construction workers at the plant near Peterhead, which processes oil and gas from offshore installations in the North Sea.
Construction workers employed by the Wood Group Industrial Service on the Shell owned site voted by 98 per cent in a consultative ballot to move ahead with an industrial action ballot. Wood Group are planning to withdraw a long standing payment for Permit Holder workers who receive a daily payment to carry out safety duties.
This could lead to wages being cut by up to £103 per week for some workers. The dispute has now escalated to include wider safety concerns because each worker is no longer being given the choice to be a Permit Holder, and those existing holders are now being expected to take out permits without the historic payment.
Vic Fraser, Unite regional industrial officer, said “Wood Group has informed us that they intend to unilaterally change contracts to ensure everyone in the workforce may be required to be a permit holder and are obliged to have it without any additional payment. Unite will not stand by as individuals who do not want to perform this safety critical role and those individuals who are not even capable to carry out the added responsibilities being forced to do so. The permit system is an integral part of the safety system at the gas plant.”
“Both Wood Group and the site operator Shell have been made aware of the reduced plant efficiency and the concerns over safety through stopping the original practice of Permit Holders coming in half an hour before the rest of the workforce. But, neither company appears to be interested in what the workforce has to say.
"As such, Unite members will be moving forward with an industrial action ballot to protect our members’ terms and conditions, and the safety of the plant and the nearby community.”
A Wood spokesperson said: “In line with site activity, we no longer require 36 employees to undertake 30 minutes of overtime to take out permits.
“We are modifying employee terms and conditions to reflect this change, which aligns with other Wood sites.
“Safety remains our highest priority and is not impacted by these changes. All employees working in a permit-controlled environment receive relevant training as part of their roles.”