North Sea workers begin 48-hour strike action over pay dispute

Staff on installations for some of the sector’s largest operators downed tools on Thursday.

North Sea workers begin 48-hour strike action over pay dispute iStock

Hundreds of offshore employees working in the North Sea have begun 48-hour strike action in a union dispute over pay.

It comes after Unite members rejected a pay offer, with 95% supporting strike action in a ballot turnout of 86%.

The union said more than 300 workers employed by Archer, Maersk, Transocean and Odfjell, will down tools on several North Sea installations on Thursday and Friday.

The dispute involves workers covered by the United Kingdom Drilling Contractors Association (UKDCA), with further strikes also planned for later in the year.

Unite said the rejected offer was a substantial real-terms pay cut.

Alix Thom, workforce engagement manager with industry body Offshore Energies UK, said employers and unions were “looking to resolve matters as soon as possible”.

She said: “We are aware of this upcoming action and know employers and unions are working hard to address workforce concerns and ensure the North Sea remains an attractive and safe place to work.

“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, and is not helpful for our sector, which is doing all it can to attract the investment essential to protect jobs and to ensure national energy security.

“We are certain all parties are looking to resolve matters as soon as possible.”

Unite industrial officer Vic Fraser said: “Unite has an emphatic mandate for industrial action from our members covered by the UKDCA. The level of participation from our drilling members is totally unprecedented with Unite’s membership growing on a daily basis.

“For years drilling companies have treated our members with contempt and in the process paid them a pittance. We will no longer tolerate this from an industry overflowing with record profits.

“Our members are now set to take industrial action in the coming weeks which will have a major impact on offshore platforms and drilling rigs.”

The action comes amidst one of year’s biggest strikes with tens of thousands of Royal Mail workers, BT staff and Openreach engineers set to walk out on Thursday in separate disputes over pay and conditions.

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