SIC - Orkney & Shetland valuation joint board

Gas plant workers vote for strike action

Shetland Gas Plant started production in February 2016. Photo: Total

AROUND 80 workers at the Shetland Gas Plant currently embroiled in a pay dispute have voted in favour of industrial action which could bring production at the site to a halt.

Unite regional organiser John Boland said Friday that 92.3 per cent of votes cast in the union’s ballot by members working for Aker Solutions were in favour of strike action.

More talks between Unite and Aker’s management are planned for Monday and the company said it hopes to bring the dispute to a “resolution”.

It is thought that production at the Total gas plant would have to stop if all of the staff in question – who work in areas such as operations and maintenance – went on strike.

Just over 98 per cent of votes were in favour of action short of a strike, while the return rate of ballots from the 81 members was 80.2 per cent.

Boland said: “Our members have overwhelmingly said that they are willing to take industrial action to resolve this dispute. No one wants to take industrial action, but after seven months of stalling from Aker we had no option but to run this industrial action ballot.

“If they continue to stall we will give notice of strike action. Aker need to realise how serious a situation this is. It would be very difficult for Total to continue running the gas plant without our Aker members there.

“We hope that they will now realise that our members are serious, and start meaningful negotiations with us.”

The dispute involves an alleged failure by the company to offer a wage rise of four per cent, which was requested by Unite off the back of the gas plant’s strong performance.

There are also holiday pay issues which relate to alleged non-payments and rolling of holiday pay into the basic hourly rate.

Aker Solutions said in a statement: “Aker Solutions was notified today that Unite the Union members employed by Aker Solutions at the Shetland Gas Plant have voted in favour of industrial action.

“Aker Solutions is committed to ensuring a positive dialogue and will meet with Unite the Union officials and Aker Solutions workplace representatives on Monday 2 October 2017 for talks on how to bring this to resolution.”

The gas plant has been operated at Sullom Voe by Total since opening last year and takes in gas from the Laggan-Tormore fields west of Shetland.