Massive Strike Looms on UKCS as 1400 Offshore Workers Demand Better Deal on Jobs, Pay, and Conditions

Around 1400 offshore workers employed on the UK Continental Shelf (UKCS) platforms will take strike action in the next weeks, seeking better deal on jobs, pay, and conditions, workers' union Unite said Monday.

According to Unite, platforms and offshore installations will be brought to a ‘standstill’ due to the specialised roles its members undertake. 

The action will hit major oil and gas operators including BP, CNRI, EnQuest, Harbour, Ithaca, Shell and Total, Unite said.

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “Oil and gas companies have been given free rein to enjoy massive windfall profits in the North Sea; drilling concessions are effectively licences to print money.

“1400 offshore workers are now set to take strike action against these employers who are raking it but refusing to give them a fair share of the pie. This will create a tsunami of industrial unrest in the offshore sector.  

“Unite will support these members every step of the way in their fight for better jobs, pay and conditions.”

Unite said that the prospective action included electrical, production and mechanical technicians in addition to deck crew, scaffolders crane operators, pipefitters, platers, and riggers working for Bilfinger UK Limited, Stork construction, Petrofac Facilities Management, the Wood Group UK Limited and Sparrows Offshore Services.

Unite said that around 700 offshore workers at Bilfinger UK Limited were set to down tools after Unite members voted in favour of taking industrial action as part of a pay dispute.  Bilfinger workers are demanding an increase above the base rate of pay set in the Energy Services Agreement (ESA) for 2022.  

Meanwhile, Unite said, 350 Stork construction workers are set to take strike action after Unite members also supported industrial action in a dispute over working rotas and rates of pay.

Unite members employed by Petrofac Facilities Management Limited on the FPF1 platform also voted in favour of strike action. Around 50 workers are involved in the dispute over holiday entitlements. Offshore workers can be asked to work at any time for no additional payment. The operator, Ithaca Energy, has a ‘clawback’ policy of 14 days, double the industry norm of 7 days, Unite said.

Unite further said that its members employed by the Wood Group UK Limited on TAQA platforms similarly voted to take strike action. Around 80 members are involved in the dispute which is focused on a 10 per cent cut made to salaries in 2015 worth around £7,000 a year.

The mandates for industrial action follow the recent announcement by Unite that around 200 Sparrows Offshore Services workers will take strike action across more than 20 oil and gas platforms in disputes over pay. Strike action is set to hit various platforms from March 29, and until June 7 in a series of 24, 48 and 72-hour stoppages. This action will hit a number of major operators including BP, Shell, Apache and Harbour Energy, Unite said.

A further two industrial action ballots are due this week at Petrofac BP involving around 80 workers (March 21), and at Worley Services UK Limited on Harbour Energy platforms involving around 50 workers (March 24) in disputes over pay. The pending ballot results could bring the final total to around 1500 offshore workers taking industrial action."

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