Union recognised after 'wildcat strike’ at BiFab steel yard

The GMB union announced that over 200 staff members at a fabrication yard in Methil downed tools on Thursday night.

Workers down tools and stage ‘wildcat strike’ at BiFab steel yard in Methil, Fife Getty Images

Over 200 employees working at a BiFab steel yard in Fife reached a union recognition agreement after staging unplanned strike action over a pay and working conditions dispute.

Harland and Wolff, which owns the facility in Methil, had said the action was “illegal”, but said the company was open to discussions with unions.

According to the GMB union, around 200 workers walked off the site, where work is being carried out for the Neart na Gaoithe wind farm on the Firth of Forth.

The organisation confirmed that around 120 of those that were involved in the strike action are thought to be Portuguese sub-contractors who claim Harland and Wolff owe sub-contractor Santa Cruz a “substantial amount”.

John Wood, Harland and Wolff CEO, had branded the action “militant” but confirmed the company engaged in “constructive” dialogue with representatives.

He said: “It is most unfortunate that the local representatives of the trade unions have taken this sort of strike action unilaterally.

“This kind of militant action does not help any party – the company, the workforce or the client. As a group that operates across the UK, we believe that trade unions should be recognised and collective bargaining agreements should be negotiated in good faith.

“However, there is a process to be followed and illegal, unjustified strike action achieves very little except for bringing the company, the workforce and the wider economy into disrepute and causing unnecessary uncertainties.

“The company is engaged in constructive dialogue at all levels with the trade unions and will seek to reach mutual agreement as quickly as possible.”

GMB Scotland organiser Dominic Pritchard said: “All staff have now returned to work and will face no disciplinary action or loss of pay.

“Unions will return next week to further meetings with Harland & Wolff where we will expect to negotiate a full trade union recognition agreement with the employer.

“Moving forward we are confident this will mean better industrial relations and ultimately will set-out conditions that will make work better for the workers we represent and want to organise.”

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