RMT members voted for strike action against pay offer. Unite members voted against strike


North Sea oil industry workers have voted narrowly against strike action in a lengthy pay dispute with 5 major catering companies.

Unions representing more than 2,000 North Sea offshore workers say they are ‘surprised and disappointed’ by the result.

A firm majority of RMT members who took part in the ballot – which went ahead despite a legal challenge last month by leading employers – voted for strike action over their 4% pay claim.

However, Unite members voted narrowly – by 50.7% – not to strike.

Both unions have been in consultation with members over the ballot result and are now expected to recommend acceptance of the pay offer.

UnionNews understands the unions are writing to employers to ask that the pay increase is backdated to September 2011.

The dispute, which is over pay and allowances, dates back to last year.

Five employers had offered a pay increase of 4%, however negotiators had also been calling for increases in travel and accomodation allowances to cover the periods at the beginning and end of the “3 on-3 off” working patterns.

The catering companies association, COTA, which includes the largest of the employers, Sodexo, lost an emergency legal challenge last month.

Had a strike gone ahead, it would have been the first industrial action of its kind in the North Sea since 1979 and would affect operations on installations across the UK sector of the North Sea involving all the main industry players, such as BP and Shell.

Unions say casualisation and the increasing use of short-term contracts has increased insecurity among the offshore workforce.

One senior official told UnionNews: “If there’s one thing this industry’s good at, it’s engendering fear among people working on the installations.”

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