North Sea strike to hit Foinaven vessel

96% vote for strike action over inferior redundancy package

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Unite the union today (July 25) confirmed that its members operating the Foinaven Floating Production, Storage and Offloading vessel (FPSO) have voted to take strike action.

96 per cent voted for strike action on an 84 per cent turnout. Continuous strike action is now scheduled to take place from August 5.

The dispute centres on offshore members being given a significantly inferior redundancy package compared with Altera’s onshore workforce. The Foinaven field is situated approximately 120 miles west of the Shetland Isles within the Faroes/Shetland Trough. Production from the field was suspended in 2021.

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said,“Our offshore members working on the Foinaven FPSO vessel are rightly aggrieved at being treated as second class workers by Altera. Unite will challenge the company on this. We don’t do our members being treated as ‘second class’. All our members are asking for is parity in the redundancy package due to the contract coming to an end.”

Unite represents around 60 workers who perform a number of roles including crane operators, electricians, deck crew and production technicians.

The Foinaven FPSO vessel is owned by Teekay but operated by Altera staff. The vessel is currently contracted to work for oil and gas giant BP but it is due to end its contract when it will be towed to Hunterston Port. All workers will be made redundant at the end of August as BP ended the contact for the vessel.

It has emerged that Altera onshore staff are set to receive redundancy payments of one month’s salary for each completed year of service up to a maximum of 12 months (one year salary). Offshore members were being offered basic statutory redundancy.

Unite is further highlighting the dangerous role its members perform by citing a recent fire on-board the Foinaven (2 April) which prompted an evacuation of non-essential staff. The incident occurred while preparations were taking place for the vessel’s departure from station.

Vic Fraser, Unite industrial officer, added, “During the industrial action ballot process Altera actually threatened our members, their long serving loyal employees, that if they were to take industrial action they may not receive the redundancy package which had been agreed. I am proud that the vote confirms our members will not buckle to threats and neither will their union”.

“There have also been ongoing safety concerns raised by workers that both Altera and BP are still forging ahead with plans to move the vessel when virtually the whole crew will be on an all-out indefinite strike. The thought of having safety critical work done while in tow with no qualified competent crew working is a real concern.”

By Andrew Brady

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