Scaffolders working at the Shetland Gas Plant may take industrial action if a dispute over accommodation cannot be resolved.
John Boland, regional organiser with trade union Unite, returns to Shetland on Tuesday in an attempt to avoid a confrontation with Petrofac, the chief contractor on the unfinished Total gas plant.
Boland was in Shetland last week for what he described as a “frank discussion” with the scaffolders’ employer Bilfinger, who are subcontracted on the site.
Trouble flared up 10 days ago when the scaffolders and labourers said they had been sacked after refusing to work beyond 1pm amid anger at changes brought in since they returned to work at the start of 2016.
They were unhappy about being forced to share rooms and at the loss of washing time.
Petrofac denied anyone had been sacked, but following talks last Monday Boland said scaffolders remained of the view that no one should be forced to share accommodation.
“The union hopes for a resolution,” he said. “If not we’ll be going to ballot on industrial action. We’ll be speaking to Petrofac to see if they can talk to us.”
He said the union already had the authority to ballot Bilfinger staff for industrial action but would be talking to other union members who are affected.
Boland stressed the company did not want to go down that road and would prefer a peaceful resolution.
A spokesperson for Bilfinger Industrial Services said: “We are aware of the concerns raised by some employees and we are in active dialogue with union representatives and our client Petrofac – which is responsible for providing our employees’ with accommodation at the site – with a view to resolving the issue.”