UK Unions Condemn Current Shift Rota

UK Unions Condemn Current Shift Rota
Unite and RMT, which represent energy workers in the UK, condemn the 3-week-on three-week-off 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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Generated by readers, the comments included herein do not reflect the views and opinions of Rigzone. All comments are subject to editorial review. Off-topic, inappropriate or insulting comments will be removed.

jim cumming  |  June 20, 2018
I used to work 14 weeks on and 3 off. 3 on/off is luxury, these guys need to wake up and face reality
Boyd  |  June 16, 2018
The responses to this article are so British. You are so keen to prove that you are worse off than the next man that you will never achieve the kind of conditions that a civilised country like Norway has enjoyed since I started working 2 on 3 off and then 2 on 4 off more than 30 years ago. Rather than support each other in a classless society like Norways you are never happier than celebrating your fellow workers having an even more sh1t deal than you suffer.
Steven  |  June 16, 2018
At the end of the day, you sign the contract you are offered no one puts a gun to your head. I worked offshore for 18 years until being involved in an incident which put paid to my offshore career. I worked 2/2 3/3 and eventually 2/3 which was excellent. But again at the end of the day, it's your choice either suck it up and get on with it or do something about it like go on a strike or look for other work
Christopher Hart  |  June 15, 2018
12 hours a day for a week is 84 hours, that's about two week's work, so a 50/50 rotation is OK. The last outfit I worked with did 5 weeks on and 5 weeks off. Sounds like a long time (tiring) and they saved an airfare every year compared with a 4 week rotation. I'm not too bothered. I suffer from jet lag so the longer the period the better for me. I would do 6 and 6. Cramped accommodation is a big issue though. Four bunks in a cabin and one bathroom is about the limit. If I could get a two-man cabin (with bathroom) that would be luxury. (I would have to be OIM, I guess), We choose this way to live, not many beach-based people with young families would choose it, I am sure. Not always perfect but as long as I am with a good crew then that is most important to me. Always keep the fight going for better standards, but for me, I am happy to take the money and enjoy my time off.
Dave  |  June 15, 2018
Of course they want 2/3 or 3/4. But what is wrong with a 1/1 system? Are conditions out there worse than they are on a decent ship? Living conditions (food and accom) are critical I agree, is it true that you can't actually rest on a rig? Do the guys have single accommodation?
Wildcat  |  June 15, 2018
We work 2 and 4 here in the US, 2 weeks off and 4 weeks on, land based though. 2 and 2 is a pretty nice schedule too.
Phil  |  June 15, 2018
For most of the 2nd half of my career I've worked 6 on 3 off. This was of course after I left the N Sea. While I sympathise that moving from 2 on 3 off to 3 on 3 off must have been a wrench it's not really all that bad.
Baz  |  June 14, 2018
WHY would you not want to work 2-4 or 2/3 i Agree with most 14/14 is to short at the end of the Day if our scandinavian partners can get it why cant we if we all bitch and moan saying are you guys for real you should try working on my ship or on a 5/5 if you dont complain or fight for it then nothing will happen and you will stay working in them conditions you have to fight for it in the first place and before i get pelters i work abroad on a 5/5 schedule but i totally agree what these guys are doing
Bob  |  June 14, 2018
Listening to some of the comments has been like listening to the Monty Python Yorkshiremen sketch where each person exaggerates his experiences to promote their own position. Please sympathise with their argument.The UK offshore guys do have an issue. Many were 2-3 until the downturn and this was swiftly changed to 3-3 to 'preserve' jobs whilst the oil price was low. This was swallowed by a workforce that had little choice but to accept. Time has moved on, the oil price has improved and there is a optimism returning to the industry. The operators know that this issue will not go away and are awaiting for the first company to blink and return to 2-3. It is a long time coming but one senses it will happen soon. It will be interesting as the boot will be on the other foot as this will stimulate movement in the industry that has not been seen for a very long time. This is a cyclic industry, the bad times and the good times are temporary, whatever situation exists, in time they change.
Bob Littlechild  |  June 14, 2018
The guys went on strike twice for better terms and conditions back in '89 and '90, and eventually got a 2 on 3 off rota. Everyone was happy. The 3 on 3 off is purely a money saving thing by the oil companies, and they have no idea of the safety aspect of the problem. I must laugh at some of the comments by UK guys saying that they prefer the 3/3 rota. Wouldn't they prefer to have more time back home with their loved ones? Our Norwegian brothers have got it right. They enjoy their 2 on 4 off rota's - and before someone pipes up with costs - the oil and gas that the Norwegian sectors produce still gets sold on the same market. For far too long, the oil companies have taken the p1ss out of the UK North Sea workers because they do not stick together on this. Stick together you UK lads & lasses, and get back the extra time off that we all enjoyed not too long ago.
Sam  |  June 14, 2018
Here in middle East it's 42/21 for the junior crew and 28/28 for seniors. Really it's tiring
K w  |  June 13, 2018
If they don't want to work the 3 on 3 off schedule then don't choose this line of work. Also realize that if you work on 2 weeks and get 3 weeks off you should be cut pay for less days worked. But I guess you would all have opposition to that.
carlo capitanio  |  June 13, 2018
Norway have proven that 2-4 is the best for people who wish to have a better life , 3-3 is the max someone should do , i have refuse work in saudi or kuwait as rotations is 8 weeks on e 4 off which it turns in 9 weeks on and 3 weeks off We should all agree that 2-2 in europe is the must but with little more time off would be the best Right now people are struggling to find a job back to sector but we should not sell our self for cheap maybe easy to say but no one should work offshore more then 3-3
Lee  |  June 13, 2018
If you lads backed the 2-3 instead of slagging us off there would be more jobs for everyone. All the rich oil company’s would need to crew up a 5th crew and some of you lads on the vessels could get a job back on the rigs. Being the big man does not help anyone.
Stephen Horne  |  June 13, 2018
I have worked offshore now for 20 years and I have worked 2-2 & 3-3 and out of these 2 rotas I much prefer the 3-3 Rota, 2 on 2 off is far to short a time off! I'm working in Holland now and 2-2 is mandatory for all physical workers (only office workers are allowed to do 3-3)! Of course if workers were given the choice then it wouldn't be even time they would choose, it would be 2-3 or 2-4 but this would cost companies much more money, the only way to enforce this would be government intervention!
Jim  |  June 13, 2018
You don't know how good you have it. Working a local crew change 21/21 is about the perfect schedule. Try 21/21 having to spend 4 of your off days traveling. Or 28/28 in South Africa... then we can talk about your poor living conditions.
Krish asker  |  June 13, 2018
Here in Norway it’s 2x4 Feels like UK is still living in Stone Age.
Ben  |  June 13, 2018
Try 4-8 weeks aboard a survey vessel with 8-16 days given back as TOIL. With the possibility of being ended earlier. 3 in 3 off would be a dream come true.
John Doe  |  June 13, 2018
Cry babies
Snowman  |  June 13, 2018
So what are they proposing? 2 and 4??
Paul F. Darby  |  June 13, 2018
Just over the median line in Norwegian waters, offshore workers work a 2/4 shift rota. Two weeks offshore followed by four weeks compensatory leave. This shift rota has been in place for over 20 years, and takes into consideration the anti-social working condition, environmental conditions, etc. Moreover, all modern offshore accommodation installations on the Norwegian continental shelf have single occupancy cabins. UK offshore workers deserve parity with their Norwegian counterparts.
Randy Welch  |  June 13, 2018
I have worked in the North Sea, Gulf of Mexico, Romania, and all over the US. The best working conditions I ever had was in the North Sea. Those guys should try working in the Gulf of Mexico. Then they would quit complaining.
Mark horn  |  June 13, 2018
Here we go, moaning again, try being on a supply vessel where we work 6 hours on and 6 hours off, for a month ,limited internet , maybe get tv if its working , oh and when was the last time a rig pig got thrown out of his bunk during his 12 hours of slumber due to bad weather
Frac hand  |  June 13, 2018
You guys really don't know how good you got it, try international on a 5/5 or even 60/30. You guys need to get on with your work and stop moaning about nothing. Go get a 9-5 if it's that bad. Jokers.
Paul  |  June 12, 2018
It's ok I will take your Job. Try working on a survey Boat anywhere from 4 to 10 weeks of 12 hour shifts (don't usually know until your on the Boat) more cramped conditions than most rigs I've been on (all except the Morcambe Flame; Jackup). 3 and 3 is a Holiday! When I first started on rigs my first rota was 1 month on 1 week off for about 1.5 years. I would love to get back offshore!