Oil & gas unions challenge North Sea employers over cheap labor use

Maritime and oil and gas unions affiliated to global federations IndustriAll and the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) met in Aberdeen 19-20 May 2016 to begin development of an industrial and political strategy to challenge the replacement of quality jobs with cheap labor by employers in the North Sea.

The group represents workers from Denmark, Norway and UK.

ITF stated that in both the oil-service sector and within the subsea-contractor segment there are still companies that are not covered by collective bargaining agreements, something the North Sea oil and gas supply chain and hubs group intends to address.

In the maritime sector ‘social dumping’ in the region has expanded through the employment of non-European workers resulting in unfair competition and redundancies for local workers, ITF noted.

According to the organization, the oil service, subsea and maritime supply companies situated in the North Sea continental shelves are considered the main targets of the campaign to expose the industry’s part in the ‘race to the bottom’ which has seen the loss of thousands of British, Danish and Norwegian national’s jobs, estimated to be over 50,000.

IndustriALL general secretary Jyrki Raina said: “These companies are over-eager to terminate traditional contracts. The competition to cut costs and reduce working conditions in this region is stark. The sheer level of the cutbacks being made is having a severe impact on health and safety of workers. We’re waiting to hear the outcome of the investigation into the death of a Filipino seafarer who died on Technip owned and managed vessel Deep Energy in Invergordon this month – cases like that are obviously of concern.”

General secretary of the ITF Steve Cotton said: “The Oil and Gas Authority are talking about the desire to retain people and skills in the sector and to retrain and redeploy the workforce, but we need to see real commitment to that in terms of action.”

ITF also added that further meetings of the group are planned to progress an industrial and political campaign gathering support from the offshore workforce and political groups in Europe.

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