The bosses of a key supplier of oil to Britain are headed for crunch negotiations with unions this week in a bid to prevent strike action.
Brothers Ravi and Shashi Ruia, who run Essar Oil UK, which owns the Stanlow oil refinery, the UK’s second largest oil refinery, are entering talks with Unite chiefs to resolve issues swirling around the fate of workers’ pension scheme and legacy pay rises.
Around 400 staff who are members of Unite have voted in favour of strike action.
The fresh crisis comes after Essar recently avoided collapse after the taxman granted the firm a reprieve over an enormous VAT bill built up during the pandemic.
Staff at Stanlow backed industrial action in response to Essar pushing to close its final salary pension scheme. Staff are also aggrieved over not receiving pay rises for 2019 and bonuses over the past two years.
Essar has agreed to delay the pension scheme’s closure.
Unite’s Mick Chalmers said: “If Essar abuses this gesture or fails to make an acceptable offer, strike action will be called.”
A spokesman for Essar Oil UK told The Sunday Times, who first reported the news: “Essar is committed to the success of Stanlow and repositioning this vital strategic asset as a low-carbon energy hub, protecting jobs and sustaining communities. To achieve this, we must take appropriate steps to ensure the long-term financial sustainability of the business.”