Unite, Scotland’s largest union, will ballot more than 200 North Sea oil rig workers for strike action in a dispute with the Wood Group over a swingeing 30 per cent pay cut.
The ballot, in conjunction with the GMB and RMT unions, will be sent to workers on eight of Shell’s North Sea oil and gas platforms.
The dispute stems from the Wood Group’s proposal to cut pay up to 22 per cent, but once reductions to other allowances are added, this amounts to a cut of 30 per cent.
A maintenance technician now earns 6.9 per cent less per offshore day due to changes to holiday pay. Recent changes have also seen workers move to a three-week working cycle.
The ballot comes as oil prices have recovered to hit an eight-month high as Brent crude reached over $50 a barrel yesterday (7 June). The price of oil has nearly doubled since January, when it hit its lowest level since late 2003 when the price of a barrel dropped below $30.
The ballot for strike action and also industrial action short of a strike will open on Wednesday (15 June) and close at noon on Wednesday 13 July, with any industrial action starting on 20 July.
Wood Group is a multinational oil and gas services company with its headquarters in Aberdeen. The employees being balloted are working on the Shell ISC contract.
Unite regional officer, John Boland said: “Unite members are not immune to the challenges facing the oil and gas industry.
“We, along with other trade unions in the offshore coordinating group, have been leading the debate on the need to hold an emergency summit involving the Scottish and UK governments, employers and trade unions to deliver greater support for the sector.
“However, due to the intransigence of the Wood Group which is seeking to impose pay cuts of up to 30 per cent, our members have been faced with no other option but to consider strike action.
"We remain committed to constructive negotiations with the company and urge them to get back round the table, but they must be prepared to work with us to find an agreed settlement.
“If management does not respond in a positive fashion then Unite will resolutely act to support and protect our members.”
Notes to editors:
For further information please contact Unite regional officer John Boland on 01224 645271 or 07918630435
On 27 May, talks over pay, proposed cuts and changes to working conditions by the Wood Group broke down. The dispute – raised under the OCA (Offshore Contractors’ Association) agreement – was confirmed after a meeting involving union representatives and Wood Group management.
In March, nearly 95 per cent of union members voted in a consultative ballot in favour of proceeding to an industrial action ballot.
- Unite Scotland is the country’s biggest and most diverse trade union with 150,000 members across the economy. The union is led in Scotland by Pat Rafferty.