UK oil refineries, power stations, chemical and pharma sites facing major strike disruption
- Thursday 7 September 2023
3,000 engineering construction workers being balloted over pay
More than 3,000 engineering construction workers, operating under the National Agreement for Engineering Construction Industry (NAECI), are being balloted for strike action over pay, Unite, the UK’s leading union, said today (Thursday).
Unite’s NAECI members carry out essential repair and maintenance at oil refineries, power stations and pharmaceutical and petro-chemical plants. They are also involved in the construction of new build projects of critical industrial infrastructure (see notes to editors for full list). Strike action would cause significant disruption to the operations at all the sites.
The workers are angry that the value of their pay has been progressively falling since the pandemic. During Covid, they agreed to a pay freeze even though they provided essential services throughout. In January 2022, they received a two year pay deal of 2.5 per cent for 2022 and again for 2023.
Despite rocketing inflation and huge increases to the cost of living, the employers who negotiate NAECI with the trade unions refused to reopen talks through 2022. After campaigning by Unite, they eventually agreed a non-consolidated supplement in February 2023, which ends in December.
As a result of the Covid pay freeze and two-year below inflation deal, the spending power of the workers’ pay has fallen dramatically. This is in stark contrast to the financial situation of the companies they are working for and on behalf of - the majority of which have seen profits increase irrespective of inflation.
Unite began preparing for formal industrial action proceedings when it became clear the two-year deal put forward for 2024 and 2025 averaging six per cent per year was rejected by 92 per cent of the membership. The offer does not go far enough to restore wages for NAECI workers.
Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “This offer is completely unacceptable when the industries involved are awash with profits. It does nothing to reverse the shrinking value of these workers’ wages over successive years or that higher pay elsewhere is causing workforce shortages.
“It also ties these workers into gambling on the economy and inflation in 2024 and 2025 when their finances have already been battered by increasingly unpredictable market forces. Unite stands rock solid with our NAECI members – the employers’ must come back with an acceptable offer."
The ballots for strike action begin opening on 13 September and will close in mid-October, with strike action scheduled to start later that month.
Unite national officer Jason Poulter said: “The anger amongst our membership is such that we are balloting for strike action. The employers must acknowledge that without a better offer, falling recruitment and retention for NAECI roles will only get worse.
“Any disruption caused by potential strikes lies squarely at their door – a much improved offer needs to be put forward if this dispute is not to escalate into widespread industrial action.”
Notes to editors:
The workers conduct critical repair and maintenance at the following sites:
Power stations: Sellafield, Drax, Hunterston B, Torness and Hartlepool.
Oil refineries and petro-chemical plants: Fawley Esso, Stanlow Essar, Pembroke Valero, Grangemouth Petroineos, Grangemouth Ineos Chemicals, Grangemouth Ineos FPS, Inovyn Ineos and Carrington Lyondell Basell.
Pharmaceutical plants: DSM Dalry, GSK Montrose and GSK Irvine.
They are involved in construction projects at: Teesside Renew, Teesside Sabic TIP and Runcorn Project Summer Vynova.
For media enquires ONLY contact senior Unite communications officer Ryan Fletcher on 07849 090215 or 020 3371 2065.
Email: [email protected]
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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 Sharon Graham.