Warning of industrial unrest 'tsunami' in North Sea oil and gas

Oil and gas operators have voted for strike action in a dispute over pay and conditions.

Warning of a “tsunami” of industrial unrest has been issued after North Sea oil and gas workers voted to strike over jobs, pay and conditions.

Around 1,400 Unite members among a number of companies operating in the UK Continental Shelf (UKCS) are involved in the dispute.

Platforms and offshore installations will be brought to a “standstill” as a result of the specialised roles undertaken by members, the union says.

The action will hit major oil and gas operators including BP, CNRI, EnQuest, Harbour, Ithaca, Shell and Total.

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “Oil and gas companies have been given free rein to enjoy massive windfall profits in the North Sea; drilling concessions are effectively licences to print money.

“1,400 offshore workers are now set to take strike action against these employers who are raking it in but refusing to give them a fair share of the pie. This will create a tsunami of industrial unrest in the offshore sector.

“Unite will support these members every step of the way in their fight for better jobs, pay and conditions.”

The prospective action includes electrical, production and mechanical technicians in addition to deck crew, scaffolders, crane operators, pipefitters, platers and riggers.

John Boland, Unite industrial officer, added: “Unite has received unprecedented support in favour of industrial action in the UK Continental Shelf. It is the biggest mandate we have received in a generation in the offshore sector.

“There is no doubt that this is directly linked to oil and gas companies reaping record profits while the workforce gets scraps from the table.

“Unite’s members are angry at the corporate greed being shown by offshore operators and contractors. Now these major global companies are set to face the consequences as dozens of offshore platforms will be brought to a standstill in a matter of weeks.”

No dates have yet been set for industrial action.

A spokesperson from Offshore Energies UK said: “We are disappointed to see that the ballot has resulted in the decision to move towards industrial action and would urge all parties to continue to work together constructively to address the concerns raised.  Across the UK, workers continue to be impacted by 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 to ensure national energy security.”

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