Workers have held unofficial strikes at several industrial sites in the UK, including Ineos’ oil refinery at Grangemouth in Scotland, in a dispute over wages.
A number of employees employed by a third party rather than Ineos itself blocked a road outside the site for several hours on Wednesday morning. The route is mostly used by tankers entering and leaving the refinery.
An Ineos spokesperson said production and fuel distribution activities were not affected by the strike action.
“The site has a very good working relationship with the contractors and their employees in Grangemouth, including those covered by the NAECI. [National Agreement for the Engineering Construction Industry]the spokesman said.
“We are disappointed that the protesters have chosen to use the Ineos Grangemouth site as one of their backdrops for their unofficial action today.
The Guardian understands that Ineos was aware of the union action in advance, but that it was not the result of a strike vote.
Videos of the unofficial strike shared on social media showed about a hundred workers standing in a road close to the refinery, holding a banner that read “ECIA let’s talk”.
The ECIA – Engineering Construction Industry Association – is the professional organization for employers of people who design, build and maintain process installations used by industries such as oil and gas, water, power generation and petrochemicals.
A strikers pamphlet shared on social media demanded that the ECIA return to the negotiating table to call for a pay rise for workers grappling with rising inflation and a crisis in the cost of living.
It said the workers had received a 2.5% pay increase at the start of the year and would receive another 2.5% in 2023.
However, they calculated that this would result in a 10% effective wage cut if inflation rises to 13%, as forecast by the Bank of England last week.
The workers who took action are covered by the NAECI, an employment regulation agreement designed to equalize wages across the industry and in effect since 1981. They say this means they are barred from some agreed one-off pay increases by certain employers.
The ECIA did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
The unofficial strike outside Grangemouth is just the latest strike of industrial action in the UK this summer as workers in industries including railways, postal services and courts have gone on strike over wages and benefits disputes.