Petrol shortage fears as refinery staff back strike action

Petrol shortage fears as refinery staff back strike action

Fears are growing of a petrol shortage later this month after staff at the UK’s biggest oil refinery voted for strike action over pay.

A 12-day strike is expected to begin on November 21 after members of the General, Municipal and Boilermakers Union (GMB) at Exxonmobil’s Fawley Oil Refinery in Southampton voted to take industrial action.

Fawley is the UK’s largest refinery, supplying a sixth of petrol stations and all airports.

It is feared that the maintenance workers’ stoppage, which is expected to also affect deliveries, will hit the fuel pumps of garages across the south of England.

A spokesman for the GMB said: “We have issued a strike notice to various employers whose workers are based at the site in Southampton.

“The dispute revolves around an Incentive Bonus Arrangement (IBA) which has been previously paid to workers but has been refused.”

Bryan Hulley, GMB Regional Organiser, said there is a ‘”real possibility” that supplies of petrol could be affected by the strike action between November 21 and December 2.

He added: “Our members work hard in arduous and hazardous conditions, outside in all weathers, to repair and maintain process units.

“Without their efforts, breakdowns cannot be repaired and maintenance work to prevent breakdowns will not be carried out, so there is a real possibility that supplies of petroleum products could be affected.

“During the pandemic, our members were asked to work a shift system and waived a shift allowance due to the difficult financial situation.

“Given the current cost of living crisis, it is only fair that the employers put their hands in their pockets and reinstate this allowance, to which our members should be entitled.

“Industrial action is the last resort and it is a shame it has come to this but the employers know where we are if they would like to talk to us.”