Latest group of offshore workers set to strike in dispute over rotas and pay

Unite the union confirmed today (9 February) that nearly 100 Odfjell offshore drillers working on two flagship BP platforms have emphatically backed strike action to secure paid leave away from the current three on/three off working rota.

96 per cent supported strike action in a ballot turnout of 73 per cent. The strike action will involve a series of 24-hour stoppages to be announced but Unite has warned that industrial action could escalate to an all-out strike. 

Two of BP’s flagship North Sea Platforms the Clair and Clair Ridge are now expected to have their drilling schedules heavily impacted by the action. The mandate for industrial action follows Odfjell’s refusal to provide paid annual leave for periods when the drillers would otherwise be offshore leaving the drillers at a disadvantage as other offshore workers are entitled to paid leave as part of their working rotas. 

Unite members also voted by 97 per cent to support action short of a strike. This will include a total overtime ban limiting the working day to 12 hours, no extra cover provided during scheduled field breaks, and the withdrawal of good will pre and post tour briefings preventing handovers between shifts.

Odfjell Technology Ltd recorded profits of £2.64m in 2021 up from £2.15m in 2020. 

 Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “Unite’s Odfjell drillers are ready to take their employers head on. The oil and gas industry is awash with record profits with BP recording profits of £23bn for 2022 more than double that for 2021. Corporate greed is at its peak in the offshore sector but the workforce are seeing none of this coming into their pay packets. Unite will support our members every step of the way in the fight for better jobs, pay and conditions.”

Unite this week blasted the UK Government's inaction on taxing oil firms as BP posted the biggest profits in its history as it doubled to £23 billion in 2022. BP’s bonanza profits come after Shell reports earnings of £32 billion, bringing the combined total profits of the top two energy companies in Britain to a record £55 billion. 

Vic Fraser Unite industrial officer, added: “Unite has an emphatic mandate for industrial action from our members. For years contractors like Odfjell and operators like BP have said offshore safety is their number one priority. Yet, they are still treating this group of workers with total contempt.

“These jobs are some of the offshore sector’s most manually demanding roles but Odfjell and BP don’t seem to understand or are unwilling to listen to the health and safety concerns of our members. Only last week, without any consultation never mind agreement from their staff, Odfjell and BP made unilateral changes to the drillers crew. This will now mean some offshore staff working anything from 25 to 29 offshore days in a row. It just beggars belief and our members are determined to fight for a better working environment.”