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Unite members vote to strike at gas plant

Shetland Gas Plant.Shetland Gas Plant.

UNITE union members at Shetland Gas Plant (SGP) have voted overwhelmingly for industrial action in the face of operator Total E&P plans to shift to longer shift patterns.

A ballot of 32 Unite members at SGP resulted in a near unanimous vote in favour of strike action.

The move parallels action in the offshore sector where the results of a ballot of union members in Total’s Alwyn, Elgin and Dunbar platforms is to be announced on 28 June.

The ballots are in response to Total plans to change the two weeks on, three weeks off rota at SGP to three on, three off, with compensation for the lost down time.

According to the oil giant, the change is to rationalise varying shift patterns in its diverse North Sea operations.

A spokesperson said: “Total is seeking to move to a rota commonly used across the North Sea and we have made an offer of fair compensation to our workforce.

“We continue to talk to our employees and their representatives about changing working patterns offshore and hope to preserve a constructive dialogue.”

A strike could result in not only SGP but the offshore platforms it serves shutting down. Unions are required to give 14 days notice of industrial action.

A report by Robert Gordon’s University commissioned by the unions pinpointed deteriorating physical and mental health as a consequence of longer shift patterns.

Unite’s regional industrial officer John Boland said the RGU report showed that three-on, three-off, shift patterns had double the negative health impacts of a two-on, two-off pattern.

Such rotas would have an affect on workers’ health and mental well being. Their levels of mental and physical exhaustion are worsened by the longer spattern, according to the study.