Dozens of oil platforms in the North Sea face severe disruption on Monday as more than 1,300 offshore workers go on strike.
The affected platforms include those operated by global energy giants BP, Shell and Total.
Some 1,300 offshore workers representing four companies are taking part in the industrial action to demand a better deal on jobs, pay and conditions.
Workers are holding a rally at Unite’s Aberdeen office from 10am on Monday.
Trade union Unite predicts the 48-hour strike action, which started at 6.30am, will bring platforms and the offshore installations of major oil and gas operators to a “standstill”.
Workers at five companies initially voted to take strike action – Bilfinger UK Limited, Petrofac Facilities Management, Stork Technical Services, Sparrows Offshore Services, and Worley Services UK Limited.
But Worley has since said its staff, comprising of 50 Unite members, have agreed to postpone industrial action until further notice.
The workers going on strike includes electrical, production and mechanical technicians in addition to deck crew, scaffolders, crane operators, pipefitters, platers, and riggers.
The corporations to be hit by the action include BP, CNRI, EnQuest, Harbour Energy, Ithaca, Shell and Total.
Unite general secretary, Sharon Graham, said: “Oil and gas companies in the offshore sector are enjoying record windfall profits.
“There’s no question that contractors and operators can easily afford to give Unite members a decent pay rise. The scale of corporate greed in the offshore sector has to be challenged.”
Unite recently blasted the UK Government’s inaction on taxing oil firms as BP posted the biggest profits in its history as it doubled to £23bn in 2022.
BP’s profits came after Shell reported earnings of £32bn, bringing the combined total profits of the top two energy companies in Britain to a record £55bn.
John Boland, Unite industrial officer, added: “Unite has received an emphatic mandate in support of strike action. It is historic and it will be the biggest offshore stoppage in a generation.
“Unite’s members are determined to get their fair share and to establish a better working environment. This is not exclusively about pay but also working rotas, holidays, and offshore safety.
“The workforce has been taken for granted for years but now their value will be acutely felt when strike action will bring dozens of platforms to a standstill.”
The strikes are part of a wave of industrial unrest on platforms in the North Sea.
Around 70 employees of TotalEnergies working on the Elgin Franklin and North Alwyn platforms along with the Shetland Gas Plant are being balloted on strike action. The votes will close on May 5.
The union has also won strike mandates at Petrofac BP covering
around 100 members, and more than 80 members employed by the Wood Group on Taqa assets.
No strike dates have been announced in relation to these disputes.
Irene Bruce, energy services agreement manager at Offshore Energies UK, said the trade body is aware of the upcoming industrial action and “encourages all parties to work together to find constructive ways to address workforce concerns”.
She added: “Workers in all sectors across the UK are feeling the impact of the cost-of-living crisis, however industrial action does not offer a solution, nor is it helpful for our sector, which is doing all it can to attract the investment essential to protect jobs and meet the UK’s energy needs.
“While some offshore staffing levels will be reduced, companies are focused on maintaining safe operations for our people and on ensuring continuity of production to maintain energy security for the UK.”
What are the energy companies saying about the strike?
A Bilfinger UK spokesman said: “Operational safety remains our top priority and we have procedures in place to minimise any potential disruption.”
Shell said it doesn’t anticipate any impact on the production of oil and gas on its North Sea oil platforms.
The other companies affected have been approached for comment.
STV News is now on WhatsApp
Get all the latest news from around the countryFollow STV News
Follow STV News on WhatsApp
Scan the QR code on your mobile device for all the latest news from around the country