UK offshore workers’ strike ballot goes forward

Offshore workers in the UK have decided to move ahead with a strike ballot over what they say are unilateral changes to working conditions and wages on behalf of the oil industry.

GMB union and Unite held further talks on May 20, and GMB said that some progress had been made during the talks with the Offshore Contractors Association, but that was not enough.

The Offshore Contractors Association, based in Scotland, is the representative body for offshore contractors.

David Hulse, GMB national officer, has said: “We will now have to proceed with organising an official ballot for industrial action as the members asked us to do in a consultative ballot earlier this year.”

“We remain available for talks should the employers want to pull back from going ahead with the unilateral changes to working practices that has provoked this dispute.

Oil & Gas UK reacts

Oil & Gas UK, an industry body representing oil and gas companies in the UK, has said it is “deeply disappointed to learn that union officials have today decided to go to strike ballot.”

A spokesperson for Oil & Gas UK said: “The cost of oil and gas operations on the UKCS has more than doubled over the last five years, making it the most expensive province in the world in which to operate.The significant fall in oil price also means that all companies in the UK North Sea are having to make difficult decisions to secure the future of their operations in the basin.

“The industry must look to improve its efficiency on a sustainable basis in order to restore the basin’s competitiveness, attract investment to the UK and protect jobs across the supply chain for the long term. Industrial action will only serve to further undermine the real challenges facing the industry and ensure that there will be no winners.”

Yesterday, UK’s oil giant BP announced it will be moving its UK offshore workers to a three weeks on three weeks off rota starting in January. BP’s current rota is two weeks on and three weeks off.

Update: May 22, 2015; 14:44 CET

In an e-mail sent to Offshore Energy Today, Hulse confirmed that both GMB and Unite are preparing a ballot for industrial action and added that “because of the legal requirements needed this could take some time”.

Offshore Energy Today Staff

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