Maintenance workers at a Shell fuels research centre in Cheshire are to escalate industrial action over pay and bosses' "bullying tactics."
Unite members at contract maintenance firm Eurest Support Services (ESS) in Ince say the company tore up an agreed pay settlement of inflation at 3.5 per cent and insisted on a 2 per cent increase instead.
The 20-strong union branch also accuses ESS of a catalogue of anti-union behaviour including a refusal to respond to grievances, bullying, ignoring its legal obligation to recognise Unite at the site, and putting workers under so much stress that some have had to take sick leave.
The dispute came to a head in December and the workers staged a two-hour stoppage at the research centre on December 17.
The company, part of the international Compass group, has maintained an anti-union stance and the workforce will stage another two-hour stoppage on Monday, including a picket at the centre in Poole Lane.
The research centre is to close next year as Shell continues a process of shifting work from Britain to overseas centres.
There are suspicions ESS wants to engineer a situation where it can sack the maintenance workers to avoid its legal responsibilities under Transfer of Undertakings Protection of Employment (Tupe) legislation which guarantees workers' pay and conditions with new employers for a limited period.
Unite is demanding negotiations.
Unite regional officer Graham Daley said: "I am appalled at Compass management's attitude towards the union and its attacks on their loyal workforce.
"Our members have had enough of the threats and bullying tactics and feel the only response to such intimidation is to escalate strike action.
"They will stand shoulder-to-shoulder on Monday to voice their anger and determination to fight these attacks.
"Unite is calling for the ESS management to engage in urgent talks with its workers and stop all the harassment of its members."
Unite says it is not in dispute with Shell.
The union believes the sale of the Ince site has already been agreed and says ESS's "total lack of communication" with employees is "totally unacceptable."
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