Strike action looms as UK offshore workers reject pay deal again

Members of Scotland’s biggest offshore trade union Unite have once again voted to reject a pay offer by their employers thus moving a step closer to a potential strike action.  

The union said in a statement on Monday that, in a consultative ballot, 81 per cent of its members voted to reject the latest deal put forward by their employers, represented by the Offshore Contractors Association (OCA).

Unite, along with the GMB union, is seeking a wage increase for offshore members, along with improved sick pay and paid travel time to an employer’s onshore base.

This is the second pay offer rejected by members. In December, 85 percent of Unite members voted to reject a previous OCA proposal that would have seen no increase in their pay and no improvement to their terms and conditions, the union claimed.

Unite regional officer Tommy Campbell said: “We have repeatedly warned the OCA employers and other offshore employers that we cannot simply have a race to the bottom, with companies competing with each other to suppress the pay and conditions of offshore workers.

“It’s bad for our members and it’s bad for the local economies that rely on their incomes.

“Those companies who invest in their workers and see them as genuine partners will reap the benefits in the future. Those who don’t will end up lagging behind, and will always face the possibility of industrial action from their workforce.”

Referring to what will come next, Campbell further said: “We will now consult with our union members and Unite workplace representatives about the way forward, given they now have a mandate for an industrial action ballot following the rejection of the pay offer.”

Several days before the results of the ballot were revealed, OCA said that member companies believed this offer would help protect and sustain the North Sea industry and employment opportunities within the sector, now and in the long-term.

Responding to the results of the vote, Paul Atkinson, OCA CEO, said: “We are extremely disappointed that members of the trade unions who took part in the consultative ballot have rejected our pay offer.

“Our priority is to find ways of avoiding industrial action. We will continue to maintain an on-going dialogue with union officials in an attempt to bring this to a resolution.”

Offshore Energy Today Staff

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