Around 40 towage workers employed by Shetland Islands Council (SIC) are set to begin an overtime ban on 5 July which will continue over a seven-week period affecting Sullom Voe Terminal, Shetland.
The trade union Unite representing the workers, has confirmed that if no progress takes place in the coming weeks, then strike action remains a possibility which would represent a major escalation in the dispute.
The overtime ban will ‘hugely disrupt’ the multi-million pound contract to bring oil tankers on to the shore for oil processing and also on production for the Brent and Ninian fields.
In April, Unite announced that towage workers on a return of 86.5% voted by 87.1% to take industrial action. The dispute revolves around 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. Instead, the workers will continue to receive a flat rate of £250.
John Clark, Unite industrial officer, said:
“Unite has continually been thwarted by the intransigence of the Shetland Islands Council over the long service award. The towage workers are asking for equal treatment which for 15 years has been denied to them since their transfer. This situation is completely unacceptable and unjust. Unless the Council accepts liability, then industrial action will commence on the 5 July initially for seven weeks.”
“We also have a mandate to take strike action which will be an inevitable course if the Council doesn’t see sense. The overtime ban will hugely disrupt oil processing and production having a serious impact on a multi-million pound contract.”