North Sea Shell workers strike over pay and allowances

oil rig

Wood Group employees based on Shell platforms across the North Sea who are members of the RMT and Unite unions are taking part in a 24-hour strike today (Tuesday 26 July 2016) in a dispute over pay and allowances.

The industrial action involves around 400 Wood Group employees from the two unions. Further stoppages are planned over the next few weeks, in addition to an overtime ban.

The industrial action relates to proposed pay cuts of up to 22%. The unions claim that these cuts would amount to 30% once reductions to allowances are considered.

A ballot of employees who are members of Unite resulted in a turnout of almost 87%, with 99% voting in favour of strike action.

In total, seven Shell platforms will be affected by the industrial action, including Shearwater, Gannet, Nelson, Curlew, Brent Alpha, Brent Bravo and Brent Charlie. A protest was also held at Shell’s London offices.

John Boland, regional officer at Unite, said: “To say we are disappointed it has had to come to this is an understatement, but bosses at Wood Group are simply not listening. This dispute is the first in the North Sea in three decades and shows the strength of feeling of our members who feel backed into a corner and left with no other option but to use their industrial strength to make Wood Group listen.

“Our members have been faced with changes to shift patterns which have seen them working longer offshore for the same pay and as well as having three rounds of redundancies imposed on them. This attack on their pay and allowances has pushed our members too far this time.”

Dave Stewart, chief executive officer for Wood Group’s eastern region business unit, said: Our employees’ safety and wellbeing remains our top priority and our commitment is to ensuring it is not compromised during industrial action. Although we are extremely disappointed that industrial action will be taken, we respect the right of those employees who choose to do so.

“Our firm focus remains on reaching a resolution, which meets our mutual goal of sustaining these jobs for our employees in the North Sea now and in the future, against the backdrop of an extremely challenging climate created by the sustained low oil price.

“We are continuing to engage frequently, proactively and openly with our employees and the unions. We met with union representatives on Friday and senior management have visited impacted installations over the weekend to talk with our people, with the clear aim of positively progressing discussions towards reaching a resolution.”

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A spokesperson at Shell said: “This action is highly regrettable. Shell’s priority is to ensure the safety of our workforce and assets and we will not compromise on safety during this period of industrial action.

“While we recognise the right of Wood Group’s employees to strike, it is clear that in order for the North Sea oil and gas industry to remain competitive in the lower oil price environment, structural change is needed. We hope that Wood Group’s employees and management will continue working towards reaching a solution which will halt this counter-productive industrial action.”