Unite hails minister’s call for debate over offshore industry future

North East Labour MSP and Shadow Energy Minister Lewis Macdonald yesterday, at the Scottish Parliament, tabled a parliamentary motion on the offshore industry crisis, in order to debate the issue at Holyrood.

He said: “There has been a great deal of discussion about the economic impact of falling oil prices, but not enough has been said or done about the human cost of the current crisis in the North Sea.

“Oil and gas companies are continuing to cut jobs and investment in North Sea projects. However, it is important that the industry remains focused on long term prospects, rather than making short term savings at the expense of essential maintenance or leading to a loss of skills offshore which will have serious consequences in future.

“It is vital that offshore unions are involved in industry’s response to the current threat to future production and jobs, and I welcome the support of unions like RMT and Unite for the motion I have tabled today.”

Unite welcomes the motion

Unite, Scotland’s largest union, has welcomed the parliamentary motion. Unite, the offshore industry’s biggest trades union, has voiced its fears over the failure of oil companies and the UK government to prepare for falling oil prices.

It has also warned that quick-fire cuts to jobs and pay would have a detrimental impact on the future prosperity and safety of the industry in the long-term.

Unite Scottish secretary, Pat Rafferty said: “We’ve heard much about the need for a relaxed tax-regime to secure investment in North Sea oil and gas, but less about the impact on the industry’s most important resource – its workers.

“The reality is that people are paying with their livelihoods because of a failure by the oil ‘majors’ and the Westminster government to prepare for a fall in oil prices.

“Over time oil prices will recover, but there is real danger that the rapid, non-consultative cuts we are witnessing will undermine health and safety, and the future of the industry for years to come.

“Lewis is proposing that government leads a genuinely collaborative approach to addressing the immediate challenges facing our most important industry, which is exactly what’s required if we are to sustain jobs, skills and safety for future generations.

“We would expect all Scottish parliamentarians to fully support this timely motion.”

Read the motion in full here:

“That the Parliament notes the severity of the downturn in the UK offshore oil industry resulting from the slump in oil prices; believes that short-term responses such as delay or cancellation of long-term projects, laying off workers, extending working hours, accelerating cost-cutting recruitment practices or changing terms and conditions without consultation will fail to mitigate the impact on workers or the wider economy; further believes that reducing essential maintenance work would jeopardise infrastructure integrity and capacity, tens of thousands of jobs, including in the north east, essential skills and future tax revenues from this vital sector; believes that oil industry trade unions have a key role to play in government/industry initiatives, such as the Energy Jobs Taskforce, in ensuring that the views and interests of those working in the industry are taken fully into account, and notes calls for government at every level to work closely with  employers, regulators, trade unions and elected representatives to support measures that preserve the sustainability of operations, jobs, skills and investment, as well as a robust safety regime in the North Sea.”

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