Unite says attacks on jobs and working conditions could have devastating consequences for offshore workers
As the UK oil and gas industry mets in Aberdeen yesterday for its industry conference, the union delivered a stark warning that squeezing every last drop out of the workforce is putting health and safety at risk.
Unite regional officer Tommy Campbell said: “North Sea employers are trying to squeeze every last drop out of the offshore workforce. Attacks on jobs and working conditions could have devastating consequences for offshore workers and for safety. People are already telling us that they are operating at maximum capacity and these cuts could put workers in jeopardy.
“The industry is enjoying the rising price of oil, and tax breaks which have given it £1.3 billion already. There is no justification for this opportunistic attack on the most important asset the industry has – the workforce. They put their lives on the line each time they step into that Super Puma and head out to the North Sea.”
The majority of employers in the North Sea are imposing swingeing cuts to shift patterns while tearing up agreements on sick pay and holiday obligations. To make matters worse some employers are even reneging on negotiated pay deals. Yet a report by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) and the Oil and Gas Industry Council, launched today, warns firms against making short-term tactical cuts rather than focusing on longer-term structural changes.
As a result of the unprecedented attack on workers’ terms and conditions, plans to ballot offshore workers for lawful industrial action are now at an advanced stage. Unite has entered into negotiations across the industry in good faith but there has yet to be any meaningful offers from the employers.
Unite welcomed yesterday’s comments from the First Minister Nicola Sturgeon which recognised the importance of retaining skills and expertise in North Sea. The union maintains that if long term structural changes are needed in this critical part of the economy, it must not be at the expense of the thousands of skilled men and women who risk their lives in the oil and gas industry.
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