40 offshore installations could be hit in April

Unite the union confirmed today (11 February) that more than 700 offshore members at Bilfinger UK Limited are set to be balloted on strike action in a dispute over pay.

Unite is demanding an increase above the base rate of pay set in the Energy Services Agreement (ESA) for 2022, and for this to be back dated to last July. The ESA agreed last year to a 4 per cent uplift, which was meant to be paid in January 2023 but this has not been paid to date. 

Bilfinger has refused to increase pay beyond the ESA base rate at a time when the broader cost of living stands at 13.4 per cent (RPI).  Bilfinger has not implemented any pay award and allowance uplifts that were also agreed in November 2022. 

The ballot runs for four weeks opening on 17 February and closes on 17 March. Any strike action and an overtime ban is expected to take place from early April 2023 following a successful ballot result. 

A number of oil and gas operators will be hit by any industrial action including BP, CNRI, Ithaca, Harbour, Repsol and Taqa.

Unite predicts that any strike action on the offshore installations will impact on production and planned work. Nearly 40 installations will be hit by hundreds of tradespersons not completing planned work (see notes to editor). 

Sharon Graham, Unite general secretary, said: “The UK’s oil and gas operators and contractors are being served with record numbers of industrial action ballots. There is one simple reason why this is happening - corporate greed. Companies like Bilfinger have refused to pay attention to the concerns of our members by offering a decent and fair pay rise. Unite will continue to fully support all our members fighting back for good jobs, pay and conditions across the offshore sector.”

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. 

The latest offshore dispute at Bilfinger is part of a wave of industrial unrest hitting the United Kingdom Continental Shelf (UKCS) with Unite involved a series of disputes involving operators and contractors. 

Shauna Wright, Unite industrial officer, added: Unite has served notice on Bilfinger because our members feel that their voices and concerns have not been heard. We will now ballot more than 700 workers across nearly 40 offshore installations where Bilfinger UK Limited has a presence. This development comes after months of failed attempts by Unite to get Bilfinger to increase pay beyond the ESA base rate. Our members are angry and they have had enough. It’s time Bilfinger paid their workforce what they deserve before a wave of industrial unrest hits the UK Continental Shelf.”


Notes to Editors:

Full List of offshore installations potentially impacted by any strike action:

Alba North, Andrew, Arbroath, Auk, Bleoholm, Brae Alpha, Britannia, Captain floating production storage and offloading (FPSO), Captain WPP, Clair, Clair Ridge, Claymore, Clyde, Cormorant Alpha, East Brae, Eider, Etap, FPF1, Fulmar, Glen Lyon, Harding, Jade, Jasmine, Judy, Leman Alpha, Montrose, Ninian Central, Ninian South, North Cormorant, Piper Bravo, Seafox 4, Sean Papa, Solan, Sole Pit Clipper, Tartan Alpha, Tern Alpha, Tiffany, and Unity.