Lindsey engineering workers go back to work
Construction work on the HDS-3 hydrodesulphurisation unit at Total’s Lindsey Oil Refinery was set to resume after striking workers ended a weeks-long dispute over 51 redundancies on part of the project. The unofficial strike was settled 29 June under an a
Lindsey, UK - Construction work on the HDS-3 hydrodesulphurisation unit at Total’s Lindsey Oil Refinery was set to resume after striking workers ended a weeks-long dispute over 51 redundancies on part of the project. The unofficial strike was settled 29 June under an agreement involving the reinstatement of 647 sacked contractor employees.
Key to the deal was that there would be no redundancies on the project for another four weeks, according to Phil Davies, GMB national officer. Any subsequent redundancies would have to be “properly handled” and overseen by a union official, who will now be based full-time at the refinery, he added.
Meanwhile, Unite assistant general secretary, Les Bayliss, said: “The last few days have shown just how much can be achieved through constructive negotiations. Unite remained committed to getting full reinstatement, nothing less would have been acceptable.”
However, Contractor companies, which include Jacobs Engineering, had indicated that sacked employees are now returning in sufficient numners for them to meet their programming requirements on the project. However, they will not confirm how many wish to return to work until the end of this week.
Meanwhile, Total said the HDS-3 project is now six months behind schedule and delays have already cost an extra Euro100 million, said Total. Further cost overruns, it warned, would jeopardise the future viability of the project.
The GMB union had accused two senior managers at Lindsay Oil Refinery site - Richard Rowlands and Ian Elliot - of "deliberately provoking the unofficial disputes in the engineering construction industry." The managers, it alleged, instructed on-site contractor R Blackett and Charlton, to hire 61 new workers, despite knowing that the original contractor Shaw was about to make 51 workers, doing exactly the same jobs, redundant three days later.
"R Blackett and Charlton were brought on-site in spring 2009 to be the employer for the 105 new jobs that were created as part of the ACAS brokered deal in the spring," said GMB. "Laying off these 51 workers is in breach of an agreement by Total and the main contractors Jacobs that no workers on the site would lose their jobs as a consequence of IREM taking over part of the work undertaken by the Shaw workers."
Meanwhile, GMB general secretary Paul Kenny condemned the sacking of the engineering construction workers at the Lindsey refinery: "Total have for a full week refused to meet the union to resolve the problems through ACAS. It seems pretty obvious that there is a mass case of victimisation taking place here. Locking out the workforce at Lindsey will not solve the problem. It will escalate it."
In a response, a company spokeswoman stated: "Total has always been committed to fair, responsible settlement that leads to the safeguarding of LOR. We remain supportive of constructive negotiations between our contract companies and their workforces in line with the National Agreement between the construction industry and the trades unions. These negotiations cannot take place whilst faced with an illegal dispute.
"When different parts of a project come to end the contractor workforce working on that specific phase are made redundant. That is the nature of the construction industry and is normal industry practice. We have never discriminated against any worker. We have always operated within the law. Everyone on the project is paid and treated equally, under the terms of the national agreement between the construction industry and the unions."
Total Lindsey Oil Refinery is owned by TOTAL UK Ltd, is the third largest refinery in the UK, processing 10 million tonnes of crude per year (200,000 barrels per day). The parent group is the world’s fifth largest energy group and claims to be Europe’s leading refiner and marketer of fuels.
Total Lindsey Oil Refinery currently employ 550 permanent staff and 350 permanent contract staff. The company is investing over £200 million in the refinery. The construction of the HDS-3 unit, it said, has created jobs for between 600 and 1200 contractors over the last 18 months.