More than 100 workers at ExxonMobil’s under-fire Mossmorran plant have staged an unofficial walkout.
Between 100 and 150 workers walked out of the petrochemical site near Cowdenbeath yesterday morning in what was said to be the second industrial action this week.
It is claimed another picket at the gates of the plant is planned today if the issue remains unresolved.
Yesterday’s walkout was by employees of Bilfinger, a German subcontractor specialising in civil and industrial construction and engineering services.
An unnamed worker said there were concerns about general wellbeing and access to hot water but Bilfinger insisted the dispute was about pay deducted from workers who supported action on Monday against another contractor.
The walkouts have piled more pressure on the beleaguered plant, which has been closed since August after two boilers failed.
“Apocalyptic” unplanned flaring as workers attempted a restart last week caused widespread alarm in the area and prompted campaigners to organise a public meeting tomorrow.
Exxon said it would not attend the meeting, claiming previous events had not provided a proper chance for reasoned and factual discussion.
It also came as ExxonMobil’s environmental performance was rated poorly by environment watchdog Sepa, which is working with the company to address the root causes of “unacceptable” flaring.
Exxon has appealed the assessment, which dates from 2018, saying the data is unverified.
Campaigners said the two issues had raised fresh fears over safety.
James Glen, chairman of Mossmorran Action Group (Mag), said: “How can communities have confidence that Mossmorran is safe when 100 workers have staged a walkout, in part, over health and safety concerns at the ethylene plant?”
An ExxonMobil spokesperson said the company was actively undertaking a programme of public meetings via community councils.
A Bilfinger 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“This action resulted in a dispute over payment for the time our employees had withdrawn their labour.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.”