Analysis: UK North Sea Strike Threat
Following a dispute between unions and the Offshore Contractors Association (OCA) over changes to terms for UK offshore workers, GMB announced May 21 a call for strike action.
The OCA, which represents service and engineering companies with a combined annual turnover of more than $4.5 billion, had been in talks with the GMB and Unite unions since the beginning of 2015. The OCA proposed pay cuts as a way for the industry to save money, as well as rota changes from two weeks on-two weeks off to three weeks on-three weeks off and changes to sick pay and holiday patterns.
Unions are upset at the proposed measures. GMB Scotland Regional Officer John Kelly claimed in a union statement that oil companies and contractors were “seeking to fundamentally attack the terms and conditions of our members employed in the offshore industry.”
Of particular concern to the unions are the rota amendments, with Kelly commenting that "any changes to rotas could have a serious impact on the safety of those working offshore" and urged companies to "rethink the proposals".
Unite Scottish Secretary Pat Rafferty was equally dismayed with the proposed changes.
"The industry agenda is clear in that it wants to impose a reduced number of employees to work longer and for much less. It’s a race to the bottom disease that is unsustainable and unacceptable," Rafferty said in a statement issued by his union.
In response to the opposition of the proposed changes from the unions, the OCA Chief Executive Bill Murray commented:
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