Unite the union has congratulated Wood Group shop stewards who have won this year’s STUC Organising Award – and said their example will inspire other offshore workers facing attacks on their pay.
The stewards – from Unite and other offshore unions – were given the recognition by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon at the STUC’s 120th Congress in Aviemore today (April 24).
The stewards helped recruit and organise workers during an industrial dispute with employers Wood Group that led to the first North Sea strike in a generation.
In July 2016, Wood Group workers on Shell platforms across the North Sea started strike action after rejecting proposed cuts of up to 30 per cent in pay and allowances. The workers ended the dispute in September after winning big concessions.
Now, offshore workers are in the middle of a new industrial dispute with employers represented by the Offshore Contractors Association (OCA).
“We’re incredibly proud of our stewards at Wood Group and very pleased that they have been given this recognition today,” said Unite regional secretary Pat Rafferty. “They worked tirelessly to recruit new members, secure a successful strike ballot, and to keep their colleagues informed and motivated.
“At the end of the dispute, we were able to reduce the levels of cuts being proposed to our members’ wages and terms and conditions, and safeguard special payments, life insurance, health care and sick pay.
“None of that would have been possible without the commitment, dedication and skill of our shop stewards.”
Unite regional officer John Boland – who worked closely with the Wood Group stewards during the dispute – said that other offshore workers will be inspired by their example.
John Boland said, “This was the first offshore strike for a generation, and there was a learning curve in terms of how to organise and deliver for workers who spend long periods of time on platforms.
“But these shop stewards found ways to communicate that worked, and that experience is now there to inspire and educate other workers. It will be invaluable in the months and years to come.
“This award is recognition of that hard work – but it should also be a warning to offshore employers that the race to the bottom on pay and conditions is over.”
Unite shop steward Jonny Peek was part of the group who accepted the award from Nicola Sturgeon.
“The next coming battle is the upcoming OCA industrial action ballot,” he said. “I hope we can continue our hard work and win this fight, bringing the workers and their unions back on top, with new confidence for members.”