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Union officials have accused oil giant Shell of playing down safety fears about job cuts at Mossmorran chemical plant in Fife.
Trade union Unite revealed 63 out of 77 contractor jobs are under threat at Shell’s Fife NGL Plant and has warned the cuts could compromise safety.
Shell has not disputed the union’s figures but said Unite had exaggerated the impact the move would have on workers involved in critical safety roles.
A spokesperson for Shell said it planned to reduce the “core maintenance team” by 12%, but pledged safety would not be compromised.
However, Unite industrial officer Bob MacGregor maintained that fears over safety were “very real”.
He added: “They are trying to play down the figures and the fact that this is a team of people that do safety critical work.”
The Shell-run NGL Plant operates alongside ExxonMobil’s Fife Ethylene Plant at the site near Cowdenbeath. It has been the subject of hundreds of complaints this year because of repeated bouts of unscheduled flaring and some residents say they are already living in fear.
Campaigners from Mossmorran Action Group have called on the Scottish Government to intervene over the looming job cuts.
James Glen, who chairs the group, said: “The Scottish Government needs to take a leading role in negotiating this change at Mossmorran, not only because it will impact on Scottish workers and communities, but also because it raises issues about safety and pollution.”
The action group has backed a call led by Green MSP Mark Ruskell for a “Just Transition Board” to be established with the aim of decommissioning the Mossmorran site and creating jobs that are not reliant on burning fossil fuels.
Environment Minister Mairi Gougeon has said it would not be appropriate to commit to such a step while the Crown Office considers a Sepa report into flaring at the Fife plant.
Contractor jobs are being cut at Shell’s Northern Systems and Plants operations, which also include the St Fergus gas terminal near Peterhead.
Unite said 46 out of 52 jobs at St Fergus were under threat.
A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “We are very concerned about the proposed redundancies and the potential impact this will have on the workforce, their families and the local area, particularly in these unprecedented times.
“We are aware of Shell’s ongoing plans for staff redundancies. We are also aware some of these relate to temporary maintenance contracts which have now come to an end.
“Site staffing is a commercial matter for businesses to consider themselves. Safety is a matter for the Health and Safety Executive to consider as the independent regulator.
“We are monitoring developments and stand ready to assist any staff affected.
“We will provide support to any employees facing redundancy through our initiative for responding to redundancy situations, Partnership Action for Continuing Employment.
“Earlier this month we launched a £25 million National Transition Training Fund to help people retrain and take advantage of the jobs available in growth areas of the economy, such as digital and green technologies.”