Over 300 offshore drilling and contract maintenance workers employed by Archer, Maersk, Transocean and Odfjell have backed strike action. The overwhelming (95%) vote for strike action will involve a series of 48-hour stoppages every second week for the first 8 weeks. The action will start on 20 and 21 October.
The mandate for industrial action follows Unite members rejecting a 5% pay offer. The pay dispute involves workers covered by the United Kingdom Drilling Contractors Association (UKDCA).
A further series of stoppages will take place on 3-4 and 17-18 November, 1-2 and 15-16 December. Unite has further warned that the action could thereafter escalate to all-out strike action.
Additional industrial action will also take place: a possible overtime ban from 18 October limiting the working day to 12 hours; no extra cover provided during scheduled field breaks, and the withdrawal of goodwill pre and post tour briefings preventing handovers between shifts.
Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said:
“Unite’s offshore drillers and contractors are ready to take their employers head on. The offer on the table is a substantial real terms pay cut. It comes from the very same companies who are driving the cost of living crisis. The oil and gas industry is swimming in record operator profits which is being fuelled by the consistently high price of oil and gas. Our offshore members have their union’s full support in fighting for better jobs, pay and conditions.”
A number of platforms will be impacted by the industrial action including BP Clair and Clair Ridge platforms, and also Equinor’s Mariner platform causing major operational problems for oil and gas operators (see notes to editor).
Unite has accused oil and gas companies of ‘unfettered profiteering’. In August, BP reported its biggest quarterly profit for 14 years which hit £6.9bn between April and June – more than three times the amount it made in the same period last year.
Vic Fraser, Unite industrial officer, added:
“Unite has an emphatic mandate for industrial action from our members covered by the UKDCA. The level of participation from our drilling members is totally unprecedented with Unite’s membership growing on a daily basis.”
“For years drilling companies have treated our members with contempt and in the process paid them a pittance. We will no longer tolerate this from an industry overflowing with record profits. Our members are now set to take industrial action in the coming weeks which will have a major impact on offshore platforms and drilling rigs.”
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