Following improved proposals by the Offshore Contractors’ Association (OCA) over changes to conditions for offshore workers in the North Sea, which were accepted by Unite union members, a Unite representative told Rigzone that he hopes future negotiations between the parties will now focus on “cooperation rather than imposition”.
Both Unite and GMB unions called for strike action in May 2015, following the OCA’s proposals to change working conditions for offshore workers in UK waters. Both unions put official industrial action ballots on hold while considering an improved offer from the OCA that was made in June, although 63.5 percent of Unite members balloted voted to reject the proposals, which increased the likelihood of industrial action. GMB union members voted to accept the OCA’s proposals in August 2015.
Commenting on the latest agreement, Unite Regional Officer Tommy Campbell said in a company statement:
“This demonstrates that even in times of crisis the most effective way forward is for the industry to work with trade unions through proper consultation channels under a collective agreement. What our oil and gas sector urgently requires now is a genuine co-operation between government, industry and the offshore trade unions to respond to this on-going crisis, alleviating the pressure on the industry while protecting employment rights. This is the only way we can begin to build a safe and sustained recovery for the UK offshore sector.”
As part of its latest proposals, the OCA, which provides critical maintenance across installations in the UK Continental Shelf, offered improved holiday entitlement and a joint review of ‘three and three’ equal time shift rotations.
In a statement sent to Rigzone, Bill Murray, chief executive of the Offshore Contractors’ Association, commented:
“We are very pleased that members of Unite have now accepted our offer. Throughout the negotiations, the OCA has listened to the unions’ concerns about the potential impact of equal time rotas on health and safety and work-life balance. At the same time, union officials and shop stewards understood the need to take action together to reduce costs and become more efficient if we are to prevent installations closing and jobs being lost.
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