UK union appeals to gov’t to protect North Sea jobs

Following a report which showed that around 120,000 jobs had been lost in the UK’s offshore oil and gas sector since 2014, Scotland’s biggest workers union, Unite, has called for government action to protect jobs in the North Sea.

Oil & Gas UK, a representative body for the UK’s offshore oil and gas industry, on Tuesday, published its Economic Report 2016, highlighting the need to boost a record low exploration on the UK continental shelf.

According to the report, the supply chain has seen an average 30 percent fall in revenues since 2014 and ongoing job losses, some 120,000, are expected to have been lost over the past two years.

The offshore oil and gas industry in the UK continues to support around 330,000 jobs, but this is still a 27 percent reduction from peak employment of around 450,000 in 2014 when Brent crude was trading at over $100/bbl. The decline is made up of around 84,000 job losses in 2015 and a further 40,000 during 2016.

Furthermore, the report indicated a record low exploration on the UK continental shelf.

Following the report that showed a massive fall in investment from £14.8bn in 2014 to around £9bn in 2015, Unite on Tuesday called for urgent government action to protect jobs in the North Sea.

“Companies have to realize that they can’t prop up their profits, or create a sustainable industry, by simply attacking the offshore and onshore workers…”

Unite’s Scottish secretary, Pat Rafferty, said on Tuesday: “We recognize that industry and unions can’t do this alone. We need the government to take a much more active role in dealing with the major issues facing the North Sea.

“In July, we said that the UK Government’s Oil and Gas Workforce Plan was woefully inadequate and fell short of arresting a decline in the industry which has led to over 120,000 jobs being axed in the past few years.

“We have repeatedly called for a summit of key industry figures and ministers from the Scottish and UK governments to hammer out an action plan to save the offshore oil and gas industry. We repeat that call today.”

Unite also said that the UK Oil & Gas report showed the importance of protecting workers from cost-cutting.

Rafferty carried on by saying: “The report says that there has been a 45 percent drop in the cost of extracting a barrel of oil or gas. Our fear is that a large part of that figure has come from unsustainable cuts to jobs, pay and conditions.

“Companies have to realize that they can’t prop up their profits, or create a sustainable industry, by simply attacking the offshore and onshore workers employed in the industry who are the bedrock of their success.

“We can’t just have a race to the bottom, with companies competing with each other to slash pay and conditions and turn livelihoods upside down. It’s bad for the industry, it’s bad for our members, and it’s bad for the wider UK economy that relies on their income.”

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