Unite, Scotland’s biggest union, has warned today (Wednesday 25 May) that if the current rate of jobs attrition in the oil and gas sector continues, with 150 jobs going every day since the barrel price downturn, there will be no viable North Sea oil industry within a decade.
The warning came as Shell Oil cut another 475 jobs in a move that the union described as part of an industry-wide strategy to drive down terms and conditions under the cover of the oil price drop.
Unite Scotland also restated its call for the governments in Edinburgh and at Westminster to do more to save this vital industry beginning by convening a cross-sector oil and gas summit to plan for the industry’s survival and growth.
The union urged Shell Oil to halt its jobs cull, which continued today with the announcement that a further 2200 jobs will be lost worldwide, 475 of them in the UK and Ireland.
Shell has announced 12,000 jobs losses in the last 18 months leading to concerns over manning levels, worker morale and health and safety.
Unite’s John Boland said: “We have very real fears that Shell cannot continue to operate safely offshore if it keep shedding the workers tasked with ensuring our oil industry is safe and sustainable.
“The Offshore Coordinating Group (OCG), of which we are members, has called time and again for an oil and gas sector summit to be convened urgently. So far the call has fallen on deaf ears but both the Scottish and Westminster governments must wake up to what is happening to this vital sector. They cannot stand-by while a vital industry’s demise takes place on their watch.”
Unite has criticised the offshore oil and gas companies for using the downturn to impose of regressive working practices across the North Sea. The industry moved quickly to cut pay and holiday entitlement with proper consultation following a sharp drop in the price of oil. More than 65,000 offshore jobs have been lost since oil prices began to fall almost two years ago – a rate of 150 jobs lost per day.
John Boland continued: “Oil companies must drop the attrition strategy - stop cutting jobs and attacking workers’ terms and conditions. It is time to take stock because this industry is heading to a situation whereby it will have lost the very skilled and experienced workers it will need to deal with the upturn.
“Unite does not accept that the job losses reported are a direct consequence of market conditions. There is a real attempt to use this as an opportunity to cut jobs and attack workers’ pay and working conditions.
“We will not allow this attempt at smoke and mirrors to detract from what is, in actual fact, a race to the bottom on costs, but with the added risk of another health and safety catastrophe.”
For further information please contact Unite press office on 020 3371 2065.
Twitter: @unitescotland and @unitetheunion
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.