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GMB take protest to BP annual general meeting

The GMB is organising for 430 workers locked out from a BP constrction site to come to London to draw attention to the irresponsible behaviour of BP and link it to the oil slicks in the Gulf of Mexico. GMB members locked out of the BP bio fuel ethanol site at Saltend in Hull plan to come to London to the BP AGM to protest against the lock out. Talks convened by ACAS in Wakefield yesterday (Sunday 10 April) ended when the employers walked out of the talks.

The protest will take place from 10.30 onwards on Thursday 14 April 2011 outside the London EXCEL Centre, Royal Victoria Dock, 1 Western Gateway, London E16. Some of the protestors will be dressed as an oil slick with slogans linking BP’s irresponsible behaviour in the Gulf of Mexico and locking out the workers at Saltend.

GMB last Friday set out a four part plan to end the lock out of the 430 workers locked out at the BP construction site in Saltend in Hull. These workers have been locked out of the site since 14th March 2011. The four point plan is as follows:

  • GMB will start a hardship fund with an initial donation of £100,000. GMB is issuing an appeal for further funds from other parts of the trade union movement and is putting in place arrangements for financial support for the Saltend victimized workers from all engineering construction sites in the UK.
  • A national meeting of Shop Stewards from all the engineering construction sites in the UK will take place to discuss the deterioration in industrial relations in the industry. This meeting is scheduled for 18th April.
  • GMB will issue a site alert regarding the BP Saltend site to all its members in all trades in the construction industry as the union is concerned that any worker offered employment on the site will need to firmly establish that the financial support is available to enable the project to be completed.
  • GMB also plan to bring the injustice of this situation and the workers protest to a wider audience of public and civil institutions.

On Wednesday 30 Marc,h GMB officials told the project manager, part of the Jacob Group, that the way to resolve this lock out is for the workers to be allowed to go back to work. BP, Du Point and British Sugar make up a consortium, Vivergo Fuels Ltd, which is client to build the £200m bio fuel ethanol plant. Vivergo awarded the contract to manage the project to Aker Process, part of the US Jacob Group. The role of the project managers is to source tenders for the contract to build the plant.

The engineering construction workforce at Saltend was employed by a range of contractors under the National Agreement for the Engineering Construction Industry. Redhall Engineering Solutions Ltd was awarded the contract for mechanical piping within the scope of work in February 2010 with 316 manual workers and 134 staff workers. Other contractors are DSL (Deborah Services Ltd) Scaffolding with 63 manual workers, SEC Electrical 40 manual workers, Syntex Engineering Services with 17 manual workers, FB Taylor with 10 manual workers and Mammoet Cranes with 15 manual workers .

On 11 March, notice was served upon Redhall Engineering Solutions Ltd by Vivergo Fuels Ltd for performance related issues, thereby terminating any agreement between themselves and Redhall . Redhall issued a communiqué to the workers stating that as from 07.31 on Monday 14 March, they will no longer be employed by them and should turn up for work to be transferred under TUPE legislation to either Vivergo Fuels Ltd or any contractor that is given the contract. When the members turned up for work on 14 March, Aker on behalf of Vivergo denied any liability to employ the transferred staff. This left GMB members in an impossible situation in that they were locked out and have not received any wages since 14 March. Workers from the other contractors have been sent home on full pay.

Les Dobbs, GMB Senior Organiser said:

The employers walked out of the ACAS talks yesterday although the unions were prepared to continue talking to try to resolve this dispute. GMB will now press ahead with the protest outside BP AGM on Thursday. We are organising for the locked out workers to come to Londonto draw attention to the irresponsible behaviour of BP and link it to the oil slicks in the Gulf of Mexico.

BP and Vivergo know that the site can not be finished until the work done by the Redhall workforce restarts. Unions want guarantees that this work will be offered to the locked out workers – who have TUPE rights to this work – but we have had no such guarantees.

BP and Vivergo are trying to frustrate the TUPE rights of these workers. These workers have every right to stage lawful peaceful protest outside the site at this frustration of their TUPE rights and they have full support of GMB in these protests. It is not true that many of them have new jobs. They have had no income since early March.

BP and Vivergo need to abandon ruses to frustrate the TUPE rights of these workers and instead work with the union to secure a resumption of work on the site.”

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