Wood Group workers stand up against cuts

Wood Group workers employed on Shell’s offshore platforms in the North Sea are calling for the withdrawal of the new proposals to cut their terms and conditions, Unite, Scotland’s largest workers’ union has said.

According to the Socialist Worker website, Wood Group has reportedly sent a letter to workers employed on Shell’s North Sea installations saying their their terms and conditions were “unaligned with current and predicted market conditions.”

“As a consequence any supplementary payments and benefits,” Socialist Worker further cited the letter, were “to be removed with effect from June 18 2016.”

The website further said that workers aboard Shell’s Shearwater platform “downed tools in fury” at the announcement of another round of job losses in Shell’s Brent oil field.

Offshore Energy Today reached out to Shell and Wood Group, seeking more info. A Shell spokesperson said Wood Group should be contacted as the matter relates to Wood group contractors, not Shell staff.

The Shell spokesperson further said that there had been no downing of tools, when asked about the reports of Shearwater workers’ response.

A Wood Group spokesperson also said that the reports on workers downing tools were false.

In addition, the spokesperson said: “We continuously review our resource requirements to meet our customer needs and drive efficiency and effectiveness in our service provision. Wood Group PSN management is working closely with our employees impacted by these proposed measures, our client and the GMB and Unite unions during this period of consultation.”

Furthermore, in another e-mail the spokesperson said the consultation was with employees on Shell platforms only, without providing further details.

Meeting imminent

In a statement on Sunday, Unite said it would meet the Wood Group management team later this week to carry the message of opposition to further cuts on behalf of the offshore workforce.

According to the union, the offshore workers say that the major oil companies are dictating that further cuts to their employers be passed onto the workforce. This is now giving rise to serious consideration by offshore workers that they will revert to industrial action to defend their pay and conditions, Unite said.

Health and safety in jeopardy?

Unite said it was also concerned that the continuing reductions in the workforce could make it impossible for the rigorous health and safety standards that ought to govern offshore work to be observed.

Cutting too fast, too far

Commenting, Unite’s Scottish secretary Pat Rafferty said: “Unite has long warned that the oil and gas industry is cutting too fast and too far. Lives and safety are being put at risk and workers have had enough.

“It is approaching 30 years since the horrific Piper Alpha disaster yet it seems that the oil and gas industry has learned little from the world’s worst offshore disaster where 167 workers lost their lives.

“Employers must not respond to the current downturn in this industry’s fortunes by putting people in a position of risk. Workers are feeling increasingly frustrated that their concerns are going unheard.

“I repeat our call for all involved in this vital industry to be brought together in an oil and gas summit so that safety standards are not the casualty of this downturn and that the potential for catastrophe is averted.

“Unite will be consulting with our members about their concerns and will consider what official industrial action may be necessary. But we say to the employers, do not delay in seeking to address the issues that demand immediate attention.”

Unite Scotland says it has has been calling on the industry to redouble its efforts to tackle its safety challenges by properly engaging with workers and their trade unions, particularly in light of the recent issues with Health and Safety Executive cuts, offshore helicopter transport safety and an ageing offshore infrastructure. Around 50 per cent of fixed platforms on the UK continental shelve have exceeded their 25-year live span, Unite says.

The article has been amended to include a statement by Wood Group

Offshore Energy Today Staff

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