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RMT, Unite and GMB unions denounce North Sea oil and gas rig wildcat strikes

The second round of wildcat strike action for a pay rise by oil and gas rig workers in the North Sea has been denounced by the RMT, Unite and the GMB trade unions.

The action, starting from 1pm Thursday, lasts for 24 hours and was reported to have impacted at least 15 platforms. Summing up the anger driving the strike, a letter from the organisers states, “We constantly watch the men and women at the top take home massive pay rates and bonuses, yet they treat us like scum.”

Montrose Alpha oil production platform, 2009

Energy Voice (EV) the industry specialist news site, published an article Wednesday, headlined, “Union, contractors decry smash and grab wild cat strikes across North Sea.” EV reports that “union and corporate representatives” of “energy services firms including Wood, Bilfinger and Stork” have “warned the action risks damaging the reputation of the North Sea, and the prospect of future deals on pay and jobs.”

It cites a joint letter from the three unions, co-signatories to the national bargaining agreement the Energy Services Agreement (ESA), claiming that “ongoing formal negotiations around changes to skills, allowances and meals” are taking place and “Our concern is that unofficial action risks everything. Some operators on the old infrastructure will use industrial unrest to justify early decommissioning and all we’ll get is more redundancies. Others will see a divided workforce and will exploit that.”

The union communication to members then warns, in a phrase dripping with hostility to the strikers, “Trying a smash and grab job for short term gains we fear will only put the whole thing at risk.”

Management was just as insistent that oil rig workers do as the Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT), Unite and the GMB demand because they view them as partners in suppressing industrial action. EV cites the Offshore Energies UK (OEUK) employers body stating last week that it was “aware of the calls for unofficial action” and urging those involved to “follow official channels.”

An earlier EV report cites workforce engagement and skills manager for OEUK, Alix Thom, claiming, “Employers and unions are working hard and constructively to address workforce concerns… industrial action does not offer a solution, and is not helpful for our sector, which is doing all it can to attract the investment essential to protect jobs and to ensure national energy security.”

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