Archive | March, 2012

Unite calls for immediate evacuation as crew sent to North Sea exclusion zone

29 Mar

Unite have expressed deep concerns over North Sea offshore health and safety following reports that workers continue to be dispatched to oil rigs within the 3-mile exclusion set around the leaking Elgin platform.

Unite representatives have contacted oil giants Total and the Heath & Safety Executive (HSE) about yesterday’s deployment of a small team of workers to the Franklin platform, a satellite rig of the Elgin situated approximately 3 miles away.  The union has also been in discussions with Shell regarding the shutdown of the nearby Shearwater platform.

The union, who called for the exclusion zone radius to be extended to 5 miles yesterday, are now calling for all further deployment of personnel to neighbouring installations to be suspended with immediate effect and oil companies to clarify their plans for workers in the affected area.

Unite Regional Officer Willie Wallace said, “Families of our members working offshore are getting in touch asking for clarity on the situation. We estimate that there could be anything between 100-200 people currently working on rigs in and around 5 miles of the Elgin.

In the case of the Franklin – normally an unmanned platform – we must question the urgency of putting a crew out there at this time, given its close proximity to the Elgin. We understand there are only temporary power arrangements in place for the Franklin as the standard supply is usually sourced from the Elgin. This could mean a risk to the temporary safe refuge area, which would be used in the event of an emergency situation, as it may not be sufficiently pressurised or fit for purpose.

Transparency is absolutely vital in this unprecedented situation. Unite has welcomed contact from both Shell and Total in the last 24 hours over their shutdown and maintenance plans and further discussions will take place.  However, the oil companies must put people before profit and we are now calling for them to bring forward plans for an immediate evacuation of the impacted area.”


For further information please contact Unite Regional Industrial Officer Willie Wallace on 07712444952 or Peter Welsh in the Unite Scotland Campaigns Unit on 07810157931.


Kilmarnock engineering strike suspended after ‘last minute’ offer

28 Mar

Kilmarnock engineering strike suspended after ‘last minute’ offer

Unite members at Mahle Engine Systems in Kilmarnock have agreed to suspend strike action after fresh proposals on the future of the plant were presented by senior company directors at last minute talks.

Strike action had been scheduled to start at 7AM tomorrow (Thursday 29th March). Unite representatives are now holding mass meetings with the workforce to discuss the new proposals and have agreed with Mahle a 28 day extension of the ballot result so these can take place. Earlier this month, 85% of members balloted voted for strike action.

Unite Regional Industrial Officer Jim Winter said, “Last minute talks with Mahle’s senior directors have brought some progress and the raft of proposals presented to us warrant further consultation with our members. 

Our members will now decide whether they provide enough scope for a profitable and sustainable manufacturing future in Kilmarnock but it is hugely frustrating that we have had to go to the brink of strike action for Mahle to even begin to seriously address our concerns.

Whether the new proposals are enough to satisfy a very angry workforce remains to be seen but the lesson for Mahle should now be clear: You cannot decide people’s livelihoods by diktat, we must have discussion and transparency.”


For further information please contact Jim Winter on 07739654856 or Peter Welsh in the Unite Scotland Campaigns Unit on 07810157931.

Unite calls for 5 mile exclusion around gas-leak rig in North Sea

27 Mar

Unite has called for a full evacuation and power down of all oil rigs within a 5 mile radius of the Elgin platform gas leak in the North Sea.

Unite, which represents over 15,000 offshore workers, welcomed the establishment of an exclusion zone around the Total Elgin Franklin platform but called for all installations within a 5 mile radius of the drifting gas to be fully evacuated and powered down for a greater focus on health and safety.

Unite Regional Industrial Officer Willie Wallace said, “This incident cannot be underestimated in its seriousness and there is still a clear and present danger we believe to many of our members while the leak remains unresolved.

However, we are concerned that only partial evacuation has taken place on the other installations in the area so far.  80 workers remained on the nearby Shearwater this morning – if the drifting gas was to hit any of the neighbouring installations the results could be catastrophic. 

We would call on the oil and gas industry and the Health and Safety Executive not to take any chances here.  Health and safety should never be diluted due to commercial pressures and any risk at all is too high a risk for offshore workers and their families.”     


For further information please contact Unite Regional Industrial Officer in Aberdeen, Willie Wallace on 07712 444952 & 01224 645271 or Peter Welsh in the Unite Scotland Campaigns & Communications Unit on 07810157931.

Last ditch talks to stop Kilmarnock engineering strike

27 Mar

Unite members and representatives from Mahle Engine Systems in Kilmarnock are meeting with the company’s senior directors today in Rugby, East Midlands, in a last ditch effort to avoid strike action.

 The union received communication from Mahle headquarters in Germanylate last week for a further meeting after proposals issued to the workforce following extensive talks on Thursday 15th March were rejected unanimously.

Unite Regional Industrial Officer Jim Winter said, “We seek two key assurance which Mahle must provide: First and foremost, that the lucrative bushings contracts remain in Kilmarnock with the required investment to compete for and attract new business. And second, that the Ford Sigma contract also remains in Kilmarnock.

We will ask Matthias Langbein if these conditions can be met and if not, why not?  To date we have received no answers to these questions and today’s meeting represents one last chance to avoid strike action.”

We’re simply not prepared to be stonewalled again.  If these assurances cannot be given the strike action will proceed at 7AM on Thursday 29th March as planned.”


For further information please contact Peter Welsh in the Unite Scotland Campaigns & Communications Unit on 07903874255.

Constitutional Referendum Update – Edinburgh & Glasgow membership meetings

23 Mar

Unite Scotland is pleased to announce meetings in Edinburgh and Glasgow for Unite members to debate this important first stage of the constitutional referendum process.

Throughout March we’ve received a fantastic response from our members across Scotland who have taken the time to give their views on the key questions posed by the Scottish Government’s ‘Your Scotland, Your Referendum’ Consultation.

We’ll continue this debate throughout April. In particular keep an eye on the Unite Scotland website for updates on meetings open to Unite members in your area – we’ll be announcing more dates very soon.

In the meantime, please see below the dates and venues for Edinburgh and Glasgow:

  •  Glasgow – Monday 2nd April, 6PM, John Smith House, 145-165 West Regent Street (5th floor).

Please contact the Glasgow Office or email if you are able to attend.

  •  Edinburgh – Tuesday 17th April, 6PM, St Columba’s Church Hall, 14 Johnstone Terrace (by the castle).

Please contact the Edinburgh Office or email if you are able to attend.

For more details on how you can join the debate, visit the Unite Scotland Constitutional Referendum page.

It’s your future, get involved!

Unite and OU programme at Rolls-Royce a huge success

21 Mar


Unite has had a successful lifelong learning programme at Rolls-Royce for some time, providing union members with opportunities to gain new skills.

Over the past few years, the union has been working with the Open University and the employer to deliver Bachelor of Engineering degrees (B Eng) to members. The delivery has been innovative, with workplace learning groups supported by tutorial surgeries held at work.

The environment of supportive peers created by the learning groups has paid off. The programme has been evaluated, and the significant findings include:

  •  Retention in 2011 was at 94% compared to an OU average of 58%
  • Progression at 100% compared to an OU average of 78%
In addition, students have been scoring very highly on their tutor marked assignments, with many achieving at distinction level.
We believe this is an excellent example of good practice, and shows how solid partnerships can deliver effective skills programmes.
You can read the evaluation report below.

OU Rolls-Royce evaluation

Strike imminent as Kilmarnock workers reject management proposals

20 Mar

Unite members at Mahle Engine Systems in Kilmarnock will announce dates for industrial action after overwhelmingly rejecting proposals put forward by the company’s senior directors last week regarding the future of the plant.

Having already secured a significant mandate for action, with 85% of members balloted voting in favour of strike action, workers agreed to attend an emergency meeting requested by Mahle’s German directors in the hope of keeping profitable manufacturing contracts in Kilmarnock.

However, new proposals issued by management following Thursday’s meeting have been rejected by the workforce after mass consultations over the weekend.

Unite Industrial Officer Jim Winter said, “The list of proposals presented to us called for a non-negotiable twelve month stay of execution with no guarantees on investment.  In effect, they have asked workers to seal their fate and support continued plans to asset strip the plant.

This workforce has made every effort to negotiate. For over seven months now we have said this plant is profitable and that its production and skills are world-class.  Time and time again we asked what we could do to change management’s mind and they stonewalled us without explanation.

We attended last week’s meeting requested by the senior directors after our ballot result in hope rather than expectation.  The proposals issued to us have shown we were wrong to be hopeful and we will now be serving due notice on the company outlining future strike dates.”


For further information please contact Unite Regional Officer Jim Winter on 07739654856 or Peter Welsh in the Unite Scotland Campaigns Unit on 07810157931.