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Lock Out In Shetland

Thursday, November 28, 2013

47 Engineering Construction Workers Locked Out By Petrofac In Shetland After Union Serves Notice Of Official Ballot In Dispute Over Unsuitable Lodgings

GMB CEC to be asked to make this lock out dispute official and the dispute will continue until the dispute over accommodation and traveling time is resolved. 

GMB members employed constructing a gas terminal in Shetland were locked out this morning (28th November) by contractor Petrofac Offshore Engineering & Operations in a dispute over accommodation allowances and traveling time.

This lock out follows GMB serving notice yesterday (27th November) to Balfour Beatty Engineering Services Limited (BBESL) of an official industrial action ballot involving 62 engineering construction members who are employed building the Laggan/Tormore gas plant in Shetland. Unite is also balloting members employed by BBESL.

The ballot will commence on Wednesday 4th December. The dispute concerns a claim for an additional £50 per day to compensate for the failure to provide suitable accommodation for members and an additional claim for payment for lengthy traveling time undertaken each day. Some other workers employed by other contractors on site are also involved in the same dispute and they will also be balloted for strike action.

These members are employed constructing a new facility to process the gas and liquid hydrocarbon reserves on a site located to the east of the established Sullom Voe oil terminal on Shetland.  Work started in early 2010.The plant will be connected to the Laggan-Tormore offshore subsea production system. The gas plant is planned to be on stream by mid 2014 and will be operated by Total.

The engineering, procurement, supply, construction and commissioning contract for the plant itself was awarded to Petrofac Offshore Engineering & Operations unit in October 2010. Balfour Beatty Engineering Services Limited (BBESL) are one the engineering construction subcontractors.

Phil Whitehurst GMB National Officer for Engineering Construction said “As a direct result of GMB serving notice yesterday of an official industrial action ballot Petrofac gave notice last night, after the day shift returned to their lodgings, that 30 BBESL employees already on the island would be flown home in the morning, and another 17 on rotational leave will not be coming back.

GMB members are the victims of this corporate bullying. It is nothing but "subby bashing" by the principal contractor Petrofac trying to show the client Total how they are in control, but in real terms it shows how they have lost control.

This is a direct attack by Petrofac, allegedly in conjunction with the client Total, on our member’s rights to take out a lawful industrial action ballot. Individual members have also complained about systematic bullying by supervisors on site.

There will be an application to the GMB Central Executive Council (CEC), which meets on 3rd December, to make this lock out dispute official.

ERBS will proceed with the official industrial action ballot and the dispute will continue until the long running dispute over accommodation and traveling time is resolved. GMB is advising the locked members to stay on the island while GMB seek talks with Petrofac to call off this provocative lock out.”


Contact: Brian Negus 07921 8857 86 or Phil Whitehurst 07968 338810 or GMB press office 07974 251 823 or 07921 289880

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