Oil giant’s training day set for disruption as canteen staff strike
One of the biggest training days for employees at the Fawley oil refinery in Hampshire on Monday 25 September is set to be disrupted by a strike of ‘pitifully’ low paid canteen staff.
Staff at the highly-profitable oil giant ExxonMobil’s operation should spare a thought for the 20 striking female workers, employed by Baxterstorey, struggling on wages on or just above the national minimum wage of £7.50 an hour.
Up to 120 staff on the training day at the site’s training complex, known as The Tent, will struggle to find their favourite bacon ‘butty’ as the canteen staff will be staging the first of five days of continuous strike action on 25 September.
Further strikes are planned for 26, 27, 28 and 29 September. They will run from 06.00 to 15.29 and then from 20.00, ending at 22.59. Staff have already taken four days of strike action.
Unite, the country’s largest union which represents the canteen staff, said it was ‘shameful’ that ExxonMobil, which chalked up £6.2bn in profits last year, allowed Baxterstorey to pay such low wages to the women.
The canteen workers have turned down a new of offer of two per cent, which the union said was ‘too little, too late’, and are now seeking the living wage, as calculated by the Living Wage Foundation, which is £8.45 an hour outside London.
(This is not the same as the government’s legally enforceable national living wage, currently £7.50 an hour).
Fawley has about 1,200 workers on site using the food ‘hubs’ and vending machines 24 hours-a-day.
Unite regional officer Mick Pollek said: “Exxon Mobil should be ashamed to be associated with a company, such as Baxterstorey, that is screwing the last ounce of profit out of its food operation at the expense of pitifully paid canteen staff.
“If nearby Southampton city council, facing massive local government cuts, can be a living wage employer, then cash-rich ExxonMobil can ensure similar pay standards on its own site.
“What we will see on 25 September is disruption to one of the biggest training days of the year, with employees, some of whom are earning more than £70,000 a year, seeking, in vain, for their favourite snack.
“Now is the time for ExxonMobil to put pressure on Baxterstorey to make a decent pay offer before this dispute turns into a PR disaster for the oil giant.”