More than 100 workers at ExxonMobil’s under fire Mossmorran plant have staged an unofficial walkout amid concerns about health and safety and pay.
It is understood that between 100 and 150 employees walked out of the petrochemical site near Cowdenbeath on Wednesday morning in what was said to be the second industrial action at the plant this week.
One worker said the walkout on Wednesday was restricted to employees of Bilfinger – a German company that specialises in civil and industrial construction and engineering services.
Action on Monday was believed to have been taken by employees of another contractor who were supported by Bilfinger staff.
Talks between workers and Bilfinger management – who insisted their workers’ issues surrounded pay only – are ongoing but the worker said a picket could take place at the gates on Thursday morning.
“About 100 workers have left the site and they’ll be back on the gates early tomorrow morning,” he said.
ExxonMobil has come in for criticism over the past two years over flaring at the site and has been closed since August after two boilers failed.
Last week, “apocalyptic” unplanned flaring as the company attempted to restart the plant caused outrage in the community and could be seen across much of Scotland.
Video footage of the flaring last Thursday is above this article
Exxon is spending £140 million in a bid to resolve issues.
A GMB Scotland spokesperson said relations between the workforce and management had been deteriorating for some time.
“Workers have continuously raised their concerns about conditions and safety on-site but have frankly been ignored,” he said.
“You can’t operate a major gas terminal this way and it shouldn’t be beyond the capabilities of Exxon and their sub-contractors to ensure workers feel safe and valued.”
Bilfinger said the dispute with its workforce was sparked by deduction of wages for industrial action on Monday.
A spokesman said: “Workers employed by a separate contractor at the Fife Ethylene Plant in Mossmorran staged an unofficial industrial action on Monday, which a number of our employees joined with unofficial sympathy action.
“This action resulted in a dispute over payment for the time our employees had withdrawn their labour.
“We are now working closely with our employees and the trade union, Unite, to quickly resolve this dispute.
“There is no dispute relating to working conditions, welfare, redundancy measures and health and safety between Bilfinger employees working at the plant and Bilfinger UK.
“We maintain an open dialogue with our employees and have rigorous health and safety processes in place, with no incidents reported since the contract began in September 2019.
“Our continued focus is on the ongoing success of our operations at the plant, safeguarding the long-term employment of our skilled and experienced workforce.”
ExxonMobil said the issue was a matter for Bilfinger.