AROUND 100 workers at a Fife chemical plant staged a walkout over safety concerns.

The GMB Scotland union said the workers, some of whom are understood to be Bilfinger contractors, left the Mossmorran site earlier this week.

The plant, which is restarting after closing last August, faced criticism after "intense flaring" at the site last week sparked alarm in the community.

Many residents took to social media to complain about the flares from the plant near Cowdenbeath, which could be seen for miles on Thursday night.

A GMB Scotland spokesman said: "Relations between the workforce and management have been deteriorating for some time.

"Workers have continuously raised their concerns about conditions and safety on-site but have frankly been ignored.

READ MORE: Action called over Mossmorran flaring after "apocalyptic" scenes

"You can't operate a major gas terminal this way and it shouldn't be beyond the capabilities of Exxon and their subcontractors to ensure workers feel safe and valued."

The Herald: Flaring at the Mossmorran plant in Fife as seen from EdinburghFlaring at the Mossmorran plant in Fife as seen from Edinburgh

Exxon Mobil has been contacted for comment about the walkout.

It previously said the flaring last week was part of work to restart operations at the ethylene plant, which has been closed since last August for maintenance work.

In 2019, the company announced a £140 million plan to reduce flaring and improve infrastructure at the plant.

The Scottish Environment Protection Agency (Sepa) launched a formal investigation into unplanned flaring at the Mossmorran plant last April following hundreds of complaints from local residents about a chemical smell and rumbling noise.

In August, the regulator varied the operating permits for ExxonMobil Chemical Limited and Shell UK Limited, which share the site, requiring them both to address the impacts of flaring and install noise-reducing flare tips.

Data published by Sepa on Wednesday rated Exxon Mobil's environmental compliance at the Mossmorran site "poor" in 2018.

Scottish Greens MSP Mark Ruskell said: "The Mossmorran workers are absolutely right to take a stand.

"This comes on a day when Sepa, which monitors the risk of pollution or environmental damage, has rated the site 'poor'.

"Mossmorran is an industrial relic and the front-line of our climate emergency challenge.

"Not only has the site been causing misery for the local community with unplanned flaring, now we hear staff are concerned about safety.

READ MORE: Fears over Mossmorran flaring after chemical plant made Fife 'look like Mordor'

"This community faces an uncertain future, with no attempt to build sustainable alternative jobs in the area."

He added: "Neither ministers nor operators have engaged enough with this community.

"The plant must be made fit for a net-zero carbon Scotland or they must plan well ahead for closure.

"If the plant has to shut in the years to come, then discussions about what is next for this community need to start now."

Annabelle Ewing, SNP MSP for Cowdenbeath, said: "When workers' fears over conditions and safety on a site such as this reach such a level that they feel pushed to walk out of the door, then we should all be very concerned indeed."

A spokesperson for Bilfinger UK said: “Workers employed by a separate contractor at the Fife Ethylene Plant in Mossmorran staged an unofficial industrial action on Monday, which a number of our employees joined with unofficial sympathy action.

"This action resulted in a dispute over payment for the time our employees had withdrawn their labour.

“We are now working closely with our employees and the trade union, Unite, to quickly resolve this dispute.

“There is no dispute relating to working conditions, welfare, redundancy measures and health and safety between Bilfinger employees working at the plant and Bilfinger UK.

"We maintain an open dialogue with our employees and have rigorous health and safety processes in place, with no incidents reported since the contract began in September 2019.

“Our continued focus is on the ongoing success of our operations at the plant, safeguarding the long-term employment of our skilled and experienced workforce.”

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: "The Scottish Government is continuing to monitor the situation closely through regular contact with Sepa and the Health and Safety Executive, who have statutory responsibilities in relation to the plant at Mossmorran."