N. Sea offshore workers strike action over shift-rota pay cut moves closer

North Sea oil workers helmetsUNITE trade union members under the Offshore Contractors Association (OCA) last night rejected proposals over changes to shift rotas and terms and conditions following a consultative ballot – increasing the likelihood of industrial action in the North Sea fossil-fuel energy industry.

A total of 63.5% per cent of union members balloted voted against OCA’s offer to move to a three-on/three-off shift pattern, with a variable remuneration offer to mitigate the impact on terms and conditions caused by the changes to working-time arrangements.

Unite industrial officer Willie Wallace said: “We said previously that our members would have the final say and they are clear that the OCA offer isn’t good enough. 

“North Sea employers must do more to address the deep concerns our members have over these shift pattern changes – from loss of earnings and livelihoods to the impact on workplace health and safety and quality of life. 

“We are not blind to the challenges facing the industry, indeed we are acutely aware it because the human cost of the downturn is clear in the deep cuts to our members’ incomes and livelihoods. 

“However, the lesson the industry has to take from this process is that it must consult and engage with our members in a far more meaningful manner and that any changes impacting lives and livelihoods should not be imposed.”

Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union with over 1.4 million members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.

The Aberdeen-based Offshore Contractors Association was not available for comment and did not reply to inquiries from Scottish Energy News last night.

However Bill Murray, OCA Chief Executive, recently said: “The industry as a whole recognises the need to make efficiencies and increase productivity in order to extend the life of the UK North Sea and maintain jobs in the sector. 

“Changes to equal time shift rotation are designed to reduce handovers and logistics costs and are not new to the North Sea. 

“Any productivity changes required will be subject to change management and risk assessment and the unions have been offered the opportunity to participate in this. Strike action will only serve to make investment in the North Sea less attractive and jeopardise the long-term future of the industry.”

The members of the OCA board are:

  • Alan Johnstone, AMEC Foster Wheeler
  • Erik-Jan Bijvank, Stork Technical Services
  • Graham Hayward, Bilfinger Salamis
  • John Macdonald, Muehlhan Surface Protection
  • Michael Hockey, ECIA
  • Paul Birch, Wood Group
  • Paul Matthews, Petrofac
  • Simon Hicks, Cape plc
  • Sheila Ferguson, Aker Offshore

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