From 17th of May around 40 towage workers employed by the Shetland Islands Council (SIC) are set to begin a continuous overtime ban at Sullom Voe. The workers are members of the Unite trade union who state that other options remain on the table including strike action if there is minimal progress in negotiations with the local authority, which could result in a ‘significant impact’ to oil processing and supplies.
Towage workers earlier this week voted by 87.1% to take industrial action in a dispute over workers being denied a ‘service award’ after their transfer to SIC in 2006. The towage workers have been told by SIC that they will not receive the long service award if they fulfil 25 years’ service, which is the equivalent of one month’s salary like other council workers but instead they will continue to receive a flat rate of £250.
John Boland, Unite industrial officer, 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.
“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.”