Threat of UKCS Strike Action Increases
The threat of strike action on the UKCS has increased, after UK union Unite and the Offshore Contractors Association failed to settle a dispute over pay.
Independent conciliation organization ACAS met with representatives from both Unite and OCA April 19, with Unite confirming after the meeting that it would push ahead with preparations for official industrial action ballots.
A strike ballot notice could be served as early as the end of April, followed by a two month long strike ballot, according to a union representative.
No new negotiations between Unite and the OCA are currently planned.
Following the meeting, OCA CEO Paul Atkinson, said he was extremely disappointed that Unite appeared “unwilling to engage on the issues which are so important to their members.”
“Our priority has always been to find ways of avoiding any disruption,” Atkinson said in a statement sent to Rigzone.
“We believe that the OCA has acted as a fair negotiator throughout this process and that our approach balances the needs of employees with the requirements of business … We remain firmly committed to doing all we can to find a lasting solution to this dispute,” he added.
In a March consultative ballot, 81 percent of Unite members voted to reject the latest pay deal put forward by their employers (represented by the OCA).
This was the second pay offer rejected by Unite members, after 85 percent voted to discard a separate OCA proposal back in December of last year. According to a Unite statement, the proposal would not have seen an increase in pay nor improvement to workers’ terms and conditions.
Unite has said that it is seeking a “significant” wage increase for members, along with improved sick pay and paid travel time to an employer’s onshore base.
In response to the latest dispute between Unite and the OCA, industry body Oil & Gas UK emphasized the need for the parties to work together.
“The business climate continues to be really challenging for our industry. We really hope all parties can keep talking because we want the UK Continental Shelf to be seen by investors as an attractive place in which to do business,” Oil & Gas UK Chief Executive Deirdre Michie said to Rigzone April 10.
“We all need to work together to deliver a competitive future for the basin which still supports hundreds of thousands of UK jobs,” she added.
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