Three offshore trade unions with members employed by offshore service company Bilfinger are today (26 May) calling on the company to stop its fire and rehire strategy. Unite, GMB and RMT have for several weeks tried to convince Bilfinger that the fire and rehire approach, and imposition of cuts in rates of pay for Inspectors employed on Taqa operations will result in significant industrial relations issues. 

The workforce in response to Bilfinger's actions have all registered individual grievances to challenge the company, and following a collective meeting with all those affected the three unions are moving to a consultative ballot of members for industrial action. The consultative ballot for industrial action will open on Thursday 27 May with a closing date for voting of June 10. The internal grievance process will continue in the meantime and the trade unions are committed to trying to find a resolution to the situation, and remain available for talks.

Shauna Wright, Unite Regional Officer said: “No one wants to go on strike and we hope the potential for action can be avoided. However, there must be meaningful engagement with Bilfinger’s workers and that just hasn’t happened. The take it or leave it approach in no way shape or form can be considered as meaningful consultation. Given the actions of the company in the last week it now appears that Bilfinger has gone down the shameful fire and rehire route resulting in the whole workforce lodging grievances, and that's why the trade unions are launching a consultative ballot on industrial action.”

Dom Pritchard, GMB Regional Organiser said the threat of industrial action is not a move workers in this sector take lightly and indicates the level of dissatisfaction with Bilfinger: “We have a very angry and disillusioned group of workers here and the approach by the company which has been largely belligerent and at times has bordered on bullying in some cases, has only served to fuel that anger. We will continue to look for a resolution to this situation but as it drags on the employment relations suffer.” 


The potential to impact the operations of Taqa as the operator of the installations where these workers are employed was highlighted by RMT Regional Organiser, Jake Molloy, who said; “These workers carry out safety critical inspections and are key to safe operations. Whether they go on strike or else choose to leave the operations as some have indicated they will do could impact on Taqa operations. We hope a reasonable outcome can be reached.”