Workers have held unofficial strikes at several industrial sites across the UK including Ineos’s Grangemouth oil refinery in Scotland in a dispute over pay.
A number of workers employed by a third party rather than Ineos itself blocked a road outside the site for several hours on Wednesday morning. The route is usually used by tankers arriving at and leaving the refinery.
An Ineos spokesperson said its manufacturing and fuel distribution operations were not affected by the strike action.
“The site has a very good working relationship with the contracting companies and their employees at Grangemouth including those operating under the NAECI [National Agreement for the Engineering Construction Industry],” the spokesperson said.
“We are disappointed that the protesters have chosen to use the Ineos Grangemouth site as one of their backdrops for their unofficial action today.
The Guardian understands Ineos knew in advance about the industrial action, but that it did not result from a strike ballot.
Videos of the unofficial strike shared on social media showed about a hundred workers standing in a road close to the refinery, holding a banner reading “ECIA let’s talk”.
— Matt Dobson (@MattDDobson) August 10, 2022
The ECIA – Engineering Construction Industry Association – is the trade body for employers of people who design, construct and maintain process plants used by sectors including oil and gas, water, power generation and petrochemicals.
A pamphlet carried by the strikers shared on social media demanded that the ECIA return to the negotiating table to call for a pay increase for workers struggling with soaring inflation and a cost of living crisis.
It said the workers had received a 2.5% pay rise at the start of the year, and would receive a further 2.5% increase in 2023.
However, they calculated this would result in an effective 10% pay cut if inflation climbs to 13%, as predicted by the Bank of England last week.
The workers who took action are covered by the NAECI, a working rule agreement, which is designed to level out wages across the sector and has been in place since 1981. They say this means they are locked out of some one-off wage increases agreed by certain employers.
The ECIA did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
The unofficial strike outside Grangemouth is just the latest bout of industrial action to take place in the UK this summer, as workers in industries including the railways, postal services and courts have gone on strike in disputes over pay and conditions.