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Offshore workers balloted for strike action

Published by , Deputy Editor
Oilfield Technology,

Unite the union has announced that offshore workers employed by Petrofac on the FPF1 platform, and the Wood Group UK Limited on TAQA platforms are being balloted for strike action.

The latest offshore disputes are part of a growing wave of industrial unrest hitting the United Kingdom Continental Shelf (UKCS). Over 1300 Unite members are now involved a series of disputes. This includes Petrofac Facilities Management Ltd on BP’s platforms, Odfjell Technology Ltd, Stork and Bilfinger.

The latest Petrofac Facilities Management Limited dispute involves around 50 workers on the FPF1 platform and it is centred on working rotas. The company made a profit of £12.5 million in 2020 in its last lodged full accounts.

Offshore workers can be asked to work at any time for no additional payment. The operator Ithaca Energy have a ‘clawback’ policy of 14 days which is significantly above the industry norm of 7 days. 14 days financially is approximately equivalent to £6000 lost income per person.

The ballot includes electrical, production and mechanical technicians in addition to deck crew, scaffolders and crane operators.

In a separate dispute, Unite is balloting around 80 members working for the Wood Group UK Ltd on TAQA platforms – Cormorant Alpha, North Cormorant and Tern Alpha. Unite is demanding the reinstatement of a 10% cut to salaries made in 2015 worth around £7000 a year, and an enhanced redundancy and retention scheme. The ballot includes electrical, production and mechanical technicians along with pipefitters, platers, riggers and deck crew.

Both ballots run for four weeks opening on 17 February and closing on 17 March. Any industrial action could take place in early April following a successful ballot.

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “Corporate greed in the oil and gas industry is at its peak in our lifetime. BP and Shell recently announced combined record profits totalling £55 billion. Offshore workers including our members at Petrofac and the Wood Group however are not seeing any of these record profits flowing into their pay packets. There is now a growing wave of industrial unrest hitting the offshore sector and Unite will support our members every step of the way in the fight for better jobs, pay and conditions.”

Unite last week blasted the UK Government's inaction on taxing oil firms as BP posted the biggest profits in its history as it doubled to £23 billion in 2022. BP’s bonanza profits come after Shell reports earnings of £32 billion, bringing the combined total profits of the top two energy companies in Britain to a record £55 billion.

John Boland, Unite industrial officer, added: “Unite is balloting our Petrofac members on the FPF1 platform, and those employed by the Wood Group on TAQA platforms. At the heart of both these disputes is a failure to provide a decent and safe working environment whether that relates to salary cuts, working rotas or enforcing draconian clawback days. Our members are rightly angry at the corporate arrogance shown by offshore operators and contractors, and they are prepared to take them head on.”

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