UK Unions Condemn Current Shift Rota
UK unions Unite and RMT, which represent energy workers in the UK, have condemned the three-week-on three-week off shift rota present within the UK Continental Shelf.
“Many workers might say that [three-weeks-on three-weeks-off] doesn’t sound too bad … The reality for oil workers is so different,” Tommy Campbell, Aberdeen-based Unite regional officer, told Rigzone.
Campbell said this “punitive” system puts an “unbelievable strain” on workers and suggested it was a “disaster waiting to happen.”
Steve Todd, RMT’s national secretary for offshore and maritime, echoed Campbell’s sentiment, telling Rigzone that the three-on three-off shift pattern “needs to end.”
“The expediencies preached by the Oil and Gas Authority to maximize the economic recovery of the circa 20 billion barrels of oil and gas reserves under the UK Continental Shelf would not be jeopardized by an end to three-on three-off,” Todd said.
“It would also increase jobs, including for the 10,000+ installation workers who have lost their jobs in the offshore oil and gas industry,” he added.
Both union representatives also drew attention to living conditions on offshore installations in the region, with Unite’s Campbell labelling them as “cramped.”
“Cramped living conditions on the rigs mean that the periods where you are not working are never rest and recreation. Fitful sleep is the norm which piles exhaustion on exhaustion,” Campbell said.
Responding to the unions’ criticisms of the three-on three-off shift pattern, Oil & Gas UK’s workforce engagement and skills manager, Alix Thom, said this type of rota, and other equal time arrangements, have long been a feature of the North Sea industry.
“They are compliant with legislation and regulatory guidance and companies would have carried out extensive safety assessments before deciding on a particular rota,” Thom told Rigzone.
Thom also said cabin occupancy numbers offshore UK are compliant with guidance from Health and Safety Executive, which regulates this aspect of worker welfare in the UK.
“The industry is compliant with this guidance, which specifies that sleeping accommodation must contain sufficient beds; must not be overcrowded; must contain adequate storage space and allow reasonable privacy and comfort,” Thom said.
Union Organization Is ‘Key’
“Union organization is … the key to the door of fighting for better conditions and a more reasonable work pattern,” Campbell said.
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