Unite the Union has announced that 200 of its members working at Exxon Mobil’s (NYSE:XOM) Mossmorran petrochemical plant have withdrawn their labour over health and safety concerns.
The workers downed tools on Tuesday following “warning signals and procedures not being in full working operation across the plant,” Unite claims.
The union says that its members were not made aware of these issues “or any procedures put in place to protect them.”
It is a legal requirement to have these signals in the event of leakages, blasts or exposure to hazardous materials and chemicals at spaces like the petrochemical plant in Fife.
Due to the seriousness of these claims, Unite is calling for the UK’s Health and Safety Executive (HSE) to “immediately investigate”.
When asked about the situation a HSE spokesman told Energy Voice: “We are aware of safety-related concerns being raised by union and employee representatives onsite.
“We are now making enquiries with the site operator.”
Unite general secretary Sharon Graham commented: “Our members will be receiving their union’s unflinching support.”
Safety issues ‘have been ongoing for around a year’
The trade union is sharing worker reports that the alarm systems have not been operational for “over a year” without staff being notified.
Bob MacGregor, Unite industrial officer, said: “This is not an isolated incident, these safety breaches and failings have been ongoing for around a year and nothing to date has been resolved.”
“That’s why Unite is calling for the Health and Safety Executive to urgently intervene due to the seriousness of the claims, and the chequered history of the plant.”
Members of the union have withdrawn labour under the terms of UK legislation, Employment Rights Act 1996 Section 44 and 100.
Unite’s members at ExxonMobil’s plant are employed on construction engineering maintenance contracts and they are split between the following contractors: Altrad, Bilfinger, and Kaefer.
Mr MacGregor added: “Unite’s members working for Altrad, Bilfinger, and Kaefer at the Mossmorran plant are rightly furious at potentially being exposed to dangerous chemicals due to failings in the plant’s safety procedures.”
‘Unite will robustly defend the legal right of our members’
However, ExxonMobil and the contractors are to date, refusing to pay the workers following the withdrawal of labour under the legislation’s terms.
Sharon Graham added: “Unite will robustly defend the legal right of our members to withdraw their labour over health and safety concerns at ExxonMobil’s Mossmorran plant.
“It is completely unacceptable that the company and the various contractors on site are refusing to pay our members their wages.”
An ExxonMobil spokesman responded: “We are aware of unofficial action instigated by a small number of individuals employed by contracting companies on our site.
“There is no impact on our operations, which continue as normal.
“Fife Ethylene Plant operates in full compliance with approved site safety standards and procedures.”