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Workers vote for strikes at EnQuest’s Sullom Voe terminal

Sullom Voe industrial action
Sullom Voe Terminal

Workers have voted “emphatically” in favour of strike action at the Sullom Voe terminal in Shetland.

Offshore union Unite said 94% of members voted to strike in response to “brutal proposals” by operator EnQuest to alter terms and conditions, including the pension scheme.

Unite said it would announce a series of strike dates “imminently” in response to the ballot, which had a 97% turnout.

EnQuest said it was “disappointed with the results” and will seek “immediate dialogue to resolve this dispute without the need for industrial action”.

It comes after EnQuest said in July that it would cut around 80 jobs at the major terminal by the end of 2019. There were 250 workers there at the time of that announcement.

Unite regional officer John Boland said: “Unite’s membership at Sullom Voe have taken an emphatic stand against the brutal proposals by Enquest to alter their terms and conditions including the pension scheme.

“The company has cut its workforce by a quarter heaping further pressure on the remaining workforce.

“We will announce a series of strike action dates imminently and the company should be in no doubt that our members will do everything to defend themselves and to oppose these unjustified attacks.”

KEY BP CONTRACT

EnQuest took over as operator of the Sullom Voe terminal in December 2017 from BP.

The company managed to reduce operating costs by a 25% to £150 million in 2018, but EnQuest said it needed to lower the bill further.

Questions remain around whether BP will continue to export oil from its huge Clair field in the West of Shetland to the facility or bypass it.

If BP chose to bypass Sullom Voe it would represent the loss of a key contract for the terminal.

BP regional president Ariel Flores said in December the firm would make a “properly assessed decision” in 2020 on continuing the export route.

An EnQuest spokeswoman said: “EnQuest has been notified by Unite the Union of the results of its recent ballot for industrial action representing all members of the Common Interest Group (CIG) at the Sullom Voe Oil Terminal (SVT).

“It remains the Company’s preference that EnQuest and Unite find a mutually acceptable resolution to this dispute, but we are focussed on readying our business continuity provisions to minimise any potential disruption to our operations at SVT.

“With safety as our first priority, EnQuest is using both external service providers and re-deploying experienced staff from other assets as well as working with our non-CIG staff at SVT to ensure we remain safe should industrial action take place.”

In July, EnQuest announced changes to “simplify the organisation” − and to employees’ terms and conditions.

The firm said at the time that the changes were needed to ensure it is competitive and “maximise the life of the terminal, and support the future of the North Sea”.

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