From a Unite member, well worth reading! “On Mon 21st July Health & Safety issues came to the fore again at Total’s Shetland Gas Plant on Mon 21st July when 100’s of engineering construction workers sat in the main canteen refusing to work due to safety concerns, as the employers say if it is unsafe you can stop the job.
What with the recent safety concerns regards non-certified straps being used for lifting(company said they couldn’t find out who done it – workers refused to accept this), there was now the issue of a concrete hopper being lifted over the heads of workers, with the handle being snagged open & releasing a tonne or so of concrete below onto the workers, then highly pressurised gas cylinders coming off a fork-lift after concerns were previously raised about this operation & location of the cylinders, the cylinders rolled down a slope & a 200 metre exclusion zone was put around them due to possible damage.
The workers sat in were demanding that their Union H&S reps were fully in involved in these investigations & that supervisors or whoever sanctioned such operations be brought to book, a senior Petrofac manager tried to inform the workers that their concerns were being met & that they needed to return to work, but the workers wouldn’t budge & gave him the questions they wanted answers to, in no uncertain terms.
The workers still sat in & then agreed, later in the day, to the companies offer to open up all investigations. The pre-arranged Union (Unite/GMB) monthly meeting then took place in the afternoon, with a whole host of industrial running sores on the SGP coming to a head, such as Shetland residents working at SGP not getting travel money as do lodging workers, 2.5 hrs lost money due to safety sit in a few months back which Petrofac refused to pay (also workers being housed on a ship with no windows, TV, Wifi, mob phone signal, temperature control for 3wks). The workers said the company needed to comply with these requests, by Weds 23rd July, along with the on-going safety issues or they would stay in the cabins again.
Things came to ahead again on Weds with 100’s again returning to the cabins, they then when on to the site & spoke to the other workers, with then all the site downing tools, probably nearly a 1,000 workers, & sitting in & surrounding Total’s & Petrofac’s offices, the workers were riggers, welders, pipefitters, scaffolders, labourers, electricians, civil construction workers, they were Scottish, English, Welsh, Irish, Polish, Portuguese & others, from companies such as Balfour Beatty, Petrofac, BIS, Randrigde, Morrison, Orion & Central Euro Staffing agency etc. Spokes people came from the shopfloor, with foriegn workers translating from English into their own languages.
The companies at first threatened to sack all the workers, but the workers held firm, later the companies with the Unions agreed to pay the workers the 2.5hrs & would look very flavourably at paying the Shetland resident workers the travel money. The workers agreed to this.
Apparently PM Cameron was going to visit SGP this day as he was in Shetland, but he was told to stay in his hotel in Lerwick.
What the workers need to do now is consolidated the position they are in, dozens of non Union workers came in droves to join up, so it is true what they say that for all their faults workers turn to their mass organisations such as Unions to defend them. They also need to become active in that Union, motions, attending branch mtgs, putting pressure on Union leaders to turn back the most restrictive anti-trade union laws in Europe, so in the case of Unite & GMB that is claiming back our mass organisation our workers political party, the Labour Party, rid it of careerists, Blairites etc & have riggers, scaffolders & labourers etc as our Labour MP representatives to get rid of anti-workers laws, why not?
So that all workers of Britain & Europe share in the wealth that we are creating for all our peoples, not just the 1%, join us now.