Unite: Around 300 UK North Sea Workers Set to Go on Strike from Dec 6

Bartolomej Tomic
Friday, December 3, 2021

Some 300 UK North Sea workers working for Ponticelli UK and Semco Maritime, serving TotalEnergies' UK North Sea platforms, will take industrial action starting Monday, December 6, following a dispute over cuts to terms & conditions, workers' union Unite said.

The Unite members involved work on the Total Energies contract on the following assets; Ailsa FSO, Culzean, Dunbar, Elgin Franklin, Gryphon FPSO, North Alwyn & Shetland Gas Plant.

Total, now TotalEnergies, in 2020 awarded a consortium of Ponticelli, Brand, and Semco (PBS) a five-year deal to provide general maintenance of all its operated oil and gas assets in the UK.

Unite had announced a possible December strike action of Ponticelli/Semco workers last month. An improved offer was put to Unite members last week, but was rejected by 85% on an 80% return, Unite said Friday.

Unite, who said the strike "is now inevitable" said Friday its Ponticelli UK Ltd members "voted overwhelmingly to take strike action by 93.6% on a return of 64.8%, and Semco Maritime Ltd members voted to take strike action by 90.3% on a 61.4% return."

Unite members are now set to take strike action from December 6, until late February 2022, including a permanent overtime ban, combined with a series of strike days.

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: "Unite members at Ponticelli/Semco have given a resounding message to their employers following an overwhelming vote in favor of strike action. These workers do not deserve the treatment being meted out by these employers and refuse to allow this attack on their jobs, pay, and conditions. This vote shows that they are prepared to fight back."

Unite regional officer, John Boland said: “Unite members are rightly extremely angry and frustrated that the Ponticelli/Semco management didn’t listen. Concerns were raised by Unite about the inexperience of these two companies months ago and that that inexperience has resulted in the position we are at today."

"Ponticelli/Semco management urgently need to rethink their proposals and come back with an improved offer otherwise they will have a strike on their hands which will be supported all the way by their union.

"Our members have made it clear that they are willing to take strike action to stop these cuts on their terms and conditions, and Unite will support them 100% in their fight.”

Call for mediation

Responding to Unite's announcement, Andreas Christophersen, PBS Director, said: "Despite our best efforts to avoid industrial action, we have not yet been able to reach an agreement. 

"PBS made an enhanced offer and we were disappointed that it was not accepted, however, we have requested that the unions join us in talks with ACAS about starting a mediation process to bring the dispute to a conclusion. We will continue to work with our employees’ representatives and the trade unions.”

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