Unite attacks ‘race to the bottom’ in North Sea after ...

Unite attacks ‘race to the bottom’ in North Sea after fresh Shell job cuts

26 March 2015

Britain’s largest union, Unite warned of a dangerous and quickening ‘race to the bottom’ in the UK’s offshore oil and gas industry as oil giants Shell and Taqa announced they would be axing 350 North Sea jobs today (Thursday 26 March).

Workers at Shell are facing a double whammy of 250 job cuts and imposed changes to shift patterns from two weeks on, two weeks off to three weeks on, three weeks off while Taqa plans to cut 100 posts. 

The latest blow to offshore workers livelihoods comes less than a week after the Chancellor George Osborne announced an eye-watering £1.3 billion tax break for the UK offshore industry to encourage growth and sustainability.

In 2014, Royal Dutch Shell generated net profits of $15 billion while its Chief Executive Officer Ben van Beurden became the second highest paid boss in the FTSE 100 with a remarkable pay deal worth €24.2 million. 

Unite Scottish Secretary Pat Rafferty said, “There is no doubt we are witnessing a concerted effort by the offshore industry to impose a race to the bottom on jobs, terms, conditions and ultimately safety across the North Sea.

 “Only last week the industry got everything it wanted from the Chancellor in the form of a £1.3 billion tax break, which industry voices claimed was necessary to boost growth and sustainability.  

“Instead the cut and gut of ordinary offshore workers livelihoods and terms and conditions goes unchallenged while executive pay across oil company majors goes through the roof. 

“The only barriers to the industry’s ongoing attacks are the offshore trades unions but we need our politicians to wake-up to the reality of what’s happening in the North Sea – it’s a growing scandal which could turn into a catastrophe.”


For further information please contact Unite Regional Officers in Aberdeen, John Taylor on 07810 157919 & Willie Wallace on 07712 444 952 or Peter Welsh in Unite Scotland Communications on 07810 157 931. 

Twitter: @unitetheunion Facebook: unitetheunion1

Notes to editors:

• Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union with over 1.4 million members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.