Unite raises concerns for crew during imminent strike action

Unite the union has raised safety concerns for crew aboard the Foinaven Floating Production, Storage and Offloading vessel (FPSO) with continuous strike action set to begin this Friday (5 August).

The country’s leading offshore trade union has slammed Altera, who operate the vessel, for maintaining a ‘wall of silence’ with the Foinaven to go under tow to Hunterston Port tomorrow (Wednesday 3 August). The vessel is expected to reach the port by early next week.

Unite represents around 60 workers who perform a number of roles including crane operators, electricians, deck crew and production technicians. 

Altera has repeatedly refused to respond to safety concerns raised by Unite specifically over the emergency services provision for the vessel if it comes into distress or if a fire breaks out as the workers will remain on the Fionaven while taking strike action until it reaches Hunterston Port.

A recent fire on-board the Foinaven (2 April) prompted an evacuation of non-essential staff. The incident occurred while preparations were taking place for the vessel’s departure from station.

Vic Fraser, Unite industrial officer, said: “Unite has repeatedly sought assurances that Altera are clear on the actions that our members will be taking during the strike, and the effect this has on the Fionaven during tow.  

We have asked Altera if they have contacted its client BP, the towing company Maersk, and all the regulators to ensure that they are also fully aware of the implications due to the strike action.” 

We remain deeply concerned for the safety of the crew during the tow which is likely to involve around 50 people, for the Foinaven itself, the towing vessels and the wider environment should anything go wrong. Quite literally our members could be stranded at sea for days without any clear safety procedures in place. To date we have faced a wall of silence from Altera over these real concerns which is unacceptable and dangerous." 

In late July, Unite confirmed that 96 per cent of its members on board the Foinaven voted for strike action on an 84 per cent turnout.  The dispute centres on offshore members being given a significantly inferior redundancy package compared with Altera’s onshore workforce.  

The Foinaven FPSO vessel is owned by Teekay but operated by Altera staff.  The vessel is currently contracted to work for oil and gas giant BP but it is due to end its contract when it is towed to Hunterston Port. All workers will be made redundant at the end of August as BP ended the contact for the vessel. 

The Foinaven field is estimated to be around 65 nautical miles from the Shetland Isles within the Faroes/Shetland Trough in the Atlantic Ocean. Production from the field was suspended in 2021.


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  • Unite Scotland is the country’s biggest and most diverse trade union with around 150,000 members. The union is led in Scotland by Pat Rafferty.