Three-hundred engineering construction workers at a major oil refinery are being balloted for strike action over pay.
They are employed under the National Agreement for the Engineering Construction Industry (NAECI) and carry out essential repair and maintenance works at the Fawley Esso oil refinery.
The workers are angry 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.
The trade union 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 the workers.
“This offer is completely unacceptable when the oil industry is awash with profits,” said Unite general secretary, Sharon Graham. “It does nothing to reverse the shrinking value of these workers’ wages over successive years.
“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 ECIA must come back with an acceptable offer.”
The ballot for strike action 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 ECIA 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 industrial action.”
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