WORKERS at a Shell research centre near Stanlow are set to strike over Christmas in a row over pay and potential redundancies.
The maintenance workers say their employer, Eurest Support Services, “tried to renege on a pay deal agreed nearly two years ago”.
Shell confirmed earlier this year that it would close the research centre in 2014, with its 280 staff being offered the chance to move to other UK locations.
The 17 maintenance staff at Eurest are also worried that Shell has already sold the site – and so they want Eurest to delay any potential redundancies so they have the chance to be transferred across to the site’s new owners.
Shell sold the Stanlow oil refinery to Essar Energy last year but retained the neighbouring research centre.
The strike is set to begin on at 7am Monday outside the Poole Lane complex.
Unite national officer, Jennie Formby, said: “The blame for strike action rests solely at the door of the company, which has acted totally irresponsibly in reneging on a pay deal agreed nearly two years ago.
“Our members are not in dispute with Shell, the site owners, but with their Scrooge-like employer – Eurest Support Services.”
Unite shop steward, Dave Thomas, said: “We believe the site has new undisclosed owners, and if Eurest shed the incumbent workforce prematurely, then this will deny workers their potential right to employment with the new owners.
“The total lack of communication with the workers affected is totally unacceptable – they feel they have been left in the dark all along regarding the future of the site.
“Workers feel their actions are fully justified, but after all the hard work by Shell to leave the site in a dignified way, it’s disappointing that their employer’s actions is going to leave a lasting memory on this once-great site.
“We urge the company to re-open talks with Unite to avert strike action over the Christmas period.”
Eurest Support Services is part of the global Compass Group. The company was unavailable for comment last night.
A Shell spokesman said: “We continue to work with interested parties to explore options for re-use of the Thornton site and its facilities and we hope that science, technology and research can continue to be part of its future. Any negotiations are confidential.”