N. Sea trade unions suspend offshore oil workers’ strike ballot pending more talks

North Sea oil workers helmetsThe GMB trade union has put its strike ballot on hold pending more talks with employers in the dispute pay and terms for offshore N. Sea workers.

At bilateral talks earlier this week in Aberdeen both sides – employers and unions – put forward proposals and both agreed to take the proposals away to consider them and hold further talks later this month.

GMB and Unite officials will hold further talks on 20 May on the dispute over unilateral changes to working conditions for workers covered by the Offshore Contractors Agreement (OCA) in UK waters.

Both unions agreed to put on hold the ballot for strike action. Members of both unions have already voted in a consultative ballot to go ahead with an official ballot for strike action over the imposition of these unilateral changes including the work rosters.

David Hulse, GMB National Officer, saidBoth unions also agreed to put on hold the ballot for strike action to allow time for the negotiations.”

The cause of the dispute is the move by the employers (OCA) to change shift-rota from the present 2 weeks on 2 weeks off to improve productivity and reduce labour costs.

Many trade union members regard the OCA as very much ‘the monkey to the ‘organ-grinder that is the Big Oil companies’. They, in turn, are grappling with a 40% fall over the 12 months in the price they receive for crude oil from the North Sea.

Meanwhile, sources close to the OCA have told Scottish Energy News that the employers’ association is deeply divided internally on the proposed changes to offshore work patterns. They said:

“It is fair to say that there is a range of views within OCA, ranging from  the rampant ‘pay-rate slashers’ to more moderate members who see the benefits to all in negotiating a settlement”.

Yesterday, Scottish Energy News revealed that the Aberdeen-based industry association, Oil and Gas UK has commissioned a new study of daily rates paid to independent contractors in the North Sea. 

This report can be read in full here: http://www.scottishenergynews.com/oil-and-gas-uk-order-wages-probe-to-compare-n-sea-contractor-pay-rates-as-part-of-40-industry-cost-cutting-drive/

The following letter from Oil and Gas UK has been received in response to this article:

7 May 2015


You report today that Oil & Gas UK announced at an invite-only members’ briefing that it has ordered a ‘wages probe’ and that ‘it could prove provocative in terms of management-worker relations’. Unfortunately the report is wrong on all counts.

 At an Oil & Gas UK breakfast briefing which was open to all, including media as advertised in the press release and on our website, the announcement was made that Mercer has been commissioned to carry out a survey of contractor rates.

Far from ‘ordering a probe’, Oil & Gas UK has brought to members’ attention that they can participate in the survey for a fee in order to benchmark the rates they pay against the market using up to date information. Such surveys of salaries and benefits are commonplace throughout all industries, not just oil and gas.

Almost all (if not all) of those covered by this particular survey work onshore whereas the ‘ballot on a ballot’ over industrial action was of offshore workers, which dispels your claim that ‘it could prove provocative in terms of management-worker relations’.

Yours (etc)

Sally Hatch Press & PR Manager

Oil & Gas UK

6th Floor East

Portland House

Bressenden Place



Tel: +44 (0)20 7802 2404 (Direct) / 2400 (Switchboard)  

Out of office hours: +44 (0) 7659 183 999 E-mail: shatch@oilandgasuk.co.uk



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