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Council / Industrial action on tugs to begin on 17 May

Sullom Voe harbour tugs at work. Photo: John Bateson

UNION members working on the Sullom Voe harbour tugs will refuse to do any overtime as of 17 May as industrial action over a dispute around long service awards gets underway.

Earlier this week, Unite members voted overwhelmingly in favour of industrial action at the oil port which could be stepped up to strike action depending on progress of negotiations with Shetland Islands Council (SIC).

Around 40 towage workers are participating in the industrial action which could result in a “significant impact” on oil processing and supplies.

Towage workers say they are being denied the SIC’s standard one month’s salary as a reward for 25 years of service.

The council has said the towage workers’ terms and conditions are protected under TUPE and can’t be “unpicked” without harmonising all the towage workers’ terms and conditions with those of other council employees.

Unite industrial officer John Boland said: “We are hoping to get a resolution to this dispute but if there is little progress in negotiations with Shetland Islands Council then our members will start industrial action from the middle of May with a continuous overtime ban.

“Strike action remains a live option on the table, which would have a major impact on the Sullom Voe Terminal.

“Unite’s members on the tugs bring the tankers into port, and without them the tankers will not be able to be loaded or unloaded.

“There is limited storage at Sullom Voe so this will have a significant impact on production for the Brent and Ninian fields. Therefore, we are hoping that common sense prevails and the Council give our members what they are owed, which is the same as their fellow workers.”