As the UK oil and gas industry meets in Aberdeen today (June 17) for its industry conference, Unite has delivered a stark warning to the industry that squeezing every last drop out of the workforce is putting health and safety at risk.
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 welcomes the comments from first minister Nicola Sturgeon today 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.
“North Sea employers are trying to squeeze every last drop out of the offshore workforce,” said Unite regional officer Tommy Campbell. “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,” Campbell added. “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.”