Today's top stories...refinery workers down tools over H&S concerns

Unite claims ExxonMobil and contractors failing in ‘legal duty’ to protect and pay workers

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Unite confirmed today (August 17) that around 200 members have withdrawn their labour over health and safety concerns at ExxonMobil’s petrochemical plant in Mossmorran.

Unite can reveal that workers downed tools on Tuesday (August 15) over health and safety warning signals and procedures not being in full working operation across the plant and the workforce not being informed of this, or any procedures put in place to protect them.

The trade union has received reports from workers citing repeated examples over a year that alarm systems are not working in areas at the petrochemical plant and workers not being notified. This is legally required in the event of any leakages, blasts or exposure to hazardous materials and chemicals at the plant.

Unite’s members have accordingly withdrawn their labour under the terms of UK legislation, Employment Rights Act 1996 Section 44 and 100. The legislation states that workers have the ‘right’ to withdraw from, and to refuse to return to a workplace that is unsafe, without being subject to any detriment including the loss of wages. ExxonMobil and the contractors are to date, refusing to pay the workers following the withdrawal of labour under the legislation’s terms.

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said, “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. This is a legal duty and not open to interpretation. Our members will be receiving their union’s unflinching support.”

North-east England faces bus chaos as workers ballot for strikes over pay

Unite warned today (August 17) that over thirteen hundred members could come out on strike and grind bus services in north-east England to a halt as its members are balloted for industrial action over pay.

Go North East drivers and engineers have been offered a derisory, below-inflation, pay offer that included cuts to terms and conditions. But administrative and clerical staff have not had any pay offer at all. Go North East can easily afford to increase pay offers given the latest accounts of its parent company, the Go-Ahead Group show bus group profits of nearly £85million.

Depots that are being balloted and would be affected by any industrial action are: Consett, Gateshead, Hexham, Percy Main (North Shields), Sunderland and Washington. The ballot opens today and will run until Tuesday, September 12. If industrial action is voted for, strikes will likely occur from mid-September.

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said, “Go-Ahead is a massive company running bus services, not just in the northeast of England, but across the country and overseas. Yet they treat their workers with contempt by offering real-term pay cuts with these below-inflation offers.”

“Unite does what it says on the trade union tin and it always puts the jobs, pay and conditions of its members first, the workers at Go North East will be receiving Unite’s total support.”

Warwickshire facing extended bus strikes as Stagecoach drivers announce walk out over pay

Warwickshire is facing extended bus strikes next month as 300 bus drivers employed by Stagecoach announced that they will be taking all-out strike action from Tuesday, September 5 in a pay dispute.

The drivers who are members of Unite have rejected a pay offer of 7.8 per cent for the first year and 4.5 per cent plus £100 for the second year. This year’s pay rise was due to come into effect on 1 July when the real inflation rate (RPI) was 11.3 per cent, making the proposed offer a substantial real terms pay cut.

The drivers who are paid just £14 an hour, operate from depots in Nuneaton, Leamington and Stratford-upon-Avon. Stagecoach controls 87 per cent of the bus network in Warwickshire, with routes also extending into Coventry.

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said, “Our members play a vital role keeping Warwickshire moving, the very least they deserve is a fair pay increase. Stagecoach is an immensely wealthy company it can fully afford to pay its workers a decent wage, its failure to do so is because it is seeking to further boost its profits at the expense of its drivers.”

Stagecoach bus strikes off in Manchester

Strikes by Stagecoach bus drivers across Greater Manchester have been suspended following an improved pay offer from the employer Unite announced today.

Industrial action that was due to take place across the August bank holiday weekend and in early September has now been suspended. Members at Stagecoach will be balloted over the new pay offer to decide whether it is accepted.

However, strikes by bus drivers at First Manchester are still going ahead as no new offer from the employer has been received. These will take place over the August Bank Holiday Weekend – 25, 26, 27, 28 August 2023 – and the first week of September, September 4-8.

Unite regional officer Colin Hayden said, “As an act of good faith we have suspended strike action while our members consider the new pay offer from Stagecoach.”

“I urge First Manchester to do likewise – get back round the negotiating table and give our members the pay rise they deserve.”

Gatwick strike action suspended as Red Handling workers receive improved offer

Strike action by workers employed by ground handling company Red Handling, at Gatwick Airport, which was due to begin tomorrow morning (Friday 18 August), has been called off after workers received a significantly improved pay offer.

The workers who are members of Unite received the revised offer late yesterday (Wednesday 16 August) and will now be balloted on the proposed deal. As an act of good faith this week’s strike action has been suspended.

Unite regional officer Dominic Rothwell said, “Unite has been consistent from the outset, we believed that Red Handling could afford to make an improved offer and that proved to be the case.”

“Our members will now decide whether the deal on the table meets their expectations.”

If the workers reject the offer, then the strike action planned from Friday 25 August until Monday 28 August will go ahead as scheduled.

Compiled by UniteLive team