703 (84 per cent) voted to accept the deal, with 127 (16 per cent) against, on an 80 per cent turnout. The strike, now in its tenth day, will therefore end forthwith, with an orderly return to work beginning immediately.
The settlement gives an immediate increase of 25 per cent on all rates, with a further five per cent on the new rates next April, and increases in November 2007 and 2008 of RPI plus 1.5 per cent or five per cent, whichever is greater.
The seven employer signatories to the deal will all now pay eight bank holidays, up from four previously, and each has undertaken to agree proper bargaining structures with the union, although pay will continue to be negotiated collectively.
"By any standard this is a tremendous victory for a group of workers who have displayed grit, determination and complete solidarity in their campaign to win a fair pay increase," RMT general secretary Bob Crow said today.
"The strike was total from the first moment, and it is to our members' immense credit that not one diving support vessel was operational throughout the stoppage.
"Divers and their support crews do difficult and hazardous work in an industry that makes enormous profits, and this settlement represents a massive stride towards reversing the two decades of pay erosion they have endured.
"Nonetheless, there remain issues to be addressed, and the establishment of proper negotiating procedures with the seven companies provides the framework within which that can now be done.
"Our members in the North Sea came out as one, stood together through ten days of solid strike action, and can return to work proud that their unity has won a significant advance," Bob Crow said.
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