Serious questions are being asked why Sabic, the biggest petrochemical company on Teesside, is adopting a policy of job losses and outsourcing of maintenance staff, while being an enthusiastic supporter of the proposed Freeport which, it is claimed, will create 18,000 jobs.

Unite the union has instigated a grievance procedure against Sabic, a subsidiary of Saudi Arabia’s Aramco petrochemicals giant, over the compulsory jobs losses of four production workers and one lab staff; and the TUPE transfer of about 40 more to two outsourced companies, R&A Kay and Bilfinger.

Unite regional officer Fazia Hussain-Brown said: “We are asking why Sabic’s management is TUPE transferring a part of the business when the company has been a keen advocate of the Teesside Freeport and is intending to take an active role at the 4,500 acre site.

“While it is boasting about ‘green’ energy investment and the creation of jobs, it is outsourcing through the back door – it leaves a sour taste in the mouth.

“Our members are shocked and angry at this announcement given that they went through a redundancy consultation process last year with a compulsory loss of jobs and there are workers who would still like to take voluntary redundancy - yet, we are again looking at five compulsory job losses.”

The collective grievance hearing will be held next week with the company wanting the transfer to be completed by the end of August – however, Unite warned that a ballot could be on the cards for industrial action.

Fazia Hussain-Brown added: “From Unite’s long experience, the transferring of workers to outsourced companies often does not end well, with a salami slicing of pay and employment conditions over a period of time – we are determined that this won’t happen in this case and a ballot for industrial action remains a strong option.”

Teesside is one eight Freeports announced by chancellor Rishi Sunak and it is claimed that it will create 18,000 jobs.


Notes to editors:

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Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest union with members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.