GMB and Unite members angry at attacks on their pay and conditions

North Sea oil rigA strike by North Sea oil workers has come a step closer after GMB and Unite members agreed to ballot for action in response to attacks on jobs, pay and working conditions.

Members of both unions voted in a consultative ballot to move to an official ballot for strike action after talks with the industry body Offshore Contractors Association (OCA) broke down. The OCA is attempting to force through changes on rotas, rates of pay, sick pay and holiday patterns as a consequence to the decline in oil prices.

GMB national officer Dave Hulse said: “Members have voted overwhelming for GMB Scotland Committee to give the go ahead for an official ballot over the proposals from clients and contractors to change terms and conditions of employment.

“The vote quite clearly demonstrates the anger and frustration of our members employed in the offshore industry. Members are prepared to strongly oppose the changes from clients and contractors

GMB does not believe proper risk assessments and consultation have taken place before unilateral action on this. We are concerned that moving to new rotas will have an adverse impact on member’s safety health and quality time.

“We will now move to the next step to ballot our members for industrial action. On the deadlocked talks we urge the contractors and clients to reconsider their proposals and get back round the table to arrive at mutually agreed arrangements.”

Unite Scottish Secretary Pat Rafferty said: “This massive support for industrial action should come as no surprise to offshore employers. Since the turn of the year workers covered by the OCA have been at the coal face of the opportunistic cuts agenda, which has continued unabated across the industry despite the Chancellor’s £1.3 billion tax break.

“The industry agenda is clear in that it wants to impose a reduced number of employees to work longer and for much less – it’s a ‘race to the bottom’ disease that is unsustainable and unacceptable.

Unite’s message to OCA employers is simple: Our members are not prepared to accept these impositions and they want proper participation over their livelihoods and the future of the offshore industry.

“It’s not too late to talk but the ball is in the employers’ court.”

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Tim Lezard

Campaigning journalist, editor of @Union_NewsUK, NUJ exec member; lover of cricket, football, cycling, theatre and dodgy punk bands

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