Workers at Lindsey refinery lose jobs in UK after strikes

Hundreds of engineering workers at the 200,000 b/d Lindsey refinery in the UK have lost their jobs constructing a hydrodesulfurisation (HDS-3) unit following their unofficial strikes about planned redundancies.

Uchenna Izundu
OGJ International Editor

LONDON, June 19 -- Hundreds of engineering workers at the 200,000 b/d Lindsey refinery in the UK have lost their jobs constructing a hydrodesulfurisation (HDS-3) unit following their unofficial strikes about planned redundancies.

Total SA, which operates the refinery, said all 647 employees who wished to continue working could reapply for their positions on June 22.

Total added it was frustrated and disappointed that it had failed to convince the employees to resume work so that it could negotiate with the unions.

GMB union warned that Total’s action could escalate the strike. Gen. Sec. Paul Kenny said it condemned Total’s approach. “It seems pretty obvious that there is a mass case of victimization taking place here. Locking out the workforce at Lindsay will not solve the problem.”

Hundreds of construction workers at several oil terminals and power stations staged unofficial walkouts in sympathy with the Lindsey employees.

The Lindsey strikes started on June 11 and related to redundancies on the HDS unit by one contractor while another was taking on staff. “This was before the redundancy letters were sent out,” a Total spokeswoman told OGJ. She added that this it was normal construction practice for workers to finish work on one phase and then have others attending to a different element. Total’s contractor, Jacobs, had originally planned for 51 redundancies last week but following the illegal strike this had now been extended to all of the employees.

Operations at the refinery are ongoing and have not been affected.

The HDS unit will increase the processing of high-sulfur crudes from 10% to nearly 70% and boost its low-sulfur diesel production. It is meant to be finished by yearend and the Total spokeswoman could not give an update on whether it could meet the target date considering the two previous strikes earlier this year over claims that foreign labour were given work at the expense of locals.

Mediation service Acas will try to broker talks between Jacob and the employees on the HDS unit at the beginning of next week.

Contact Uchenna Izundu at uchennai@pennwell.com.

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