Unite and RMT to hold more North Sea strikes over pay cuts

Unions urge rethink over proposed pay cuts as dates are set for further strikes

THE RMT and Unite trade unions have called for urgent talks with the energy company Wood Group which operates the North Sea platforms for Shell, in order to avoid further strikes planned for next week.

The workers, employed by The Wood Group, are contracted to carry out maintenance and repair on platforms owned by Shell, but face cuts in pay and allowances of up to 30 per cent.

Both unions announced that over 300 members who work for Wood Group on Shell’s Curlew platform will begin 24-hour stoppages on 15, 22 and 29 August and more stoppages are planned after those dates.

"We are also well aware that the Wood Group chief executive has had a pay increase of 28 per cent to bring him up to £600,000 a year." Mike Cash

Unite's regional officer, John Boland, stated: "Last week the Wood Group refused to take these proposed cuts off the table in order to allow proper negotiations. 

"Now we have been told that the company is not willing to have talks until next week at the earliest. We find that astonishing.

"The company needs to start taking this dispute seriously. No-one takes industrial action lightly, but our members are staying united in the face of this unwarranted attack on their pay and conditions. These further strike dates show their determination.

"We know the North Sea oil and gas industry is facing challenges, but companies have to realise that they can’t prop up their profits or create a sustainable industry by attacking their workers."

CommonSpace had previously reported on the strikes earlier this month and last month, when the same workers went on strike because of no progress in negotiations to pay and work conditions.

"They have chosen not to bend the knee, they have chosen to stand up and fight." Mike Cash

Workers on Shell’s Brent Alpha and Brent Bravo will take part in 24-hour stoppages on 16, 23 and 30 August 2016 and others on the Nelson, Gannet and Shearwater platforms will take part in 24-hour stoppages on 17, 24 and 31 August 2016.

Other dates outlined by the unions will mean a six-hour strike on the Brent Charlie platform on 16, 20, 23, 27 and 30 August 2016 and 3 September 2016 respectively.

RMT general secretary Mick Cash was among RMT executive members and other protesters at Shell’s head office in London last week in support of Wood Group strikers in the North Sea.

Cash said: "After savage redundancies and attacks on workload and working conditions, this group of offshore workers have been told that they are going to be railroaded into accepting pay cuts of up to 30 per cent. 

"They have chosen not to bend the knee, they have chosen to stand up and fight. 

"We are also well aware that the Wood Group chief executive has had a pay increase of 28 per cent to bring him up to £600,000 a year. 

"It is obscene that while the top bosses are lining their own pockets they are kicking the workforce from pillar to post.

"The unions welcome the fantastic support that has been pouring in from around the world for this important dispute. The unions remain available for serious and meaningful talks."

"We know the North Sea oil and gas industry is facing challenges, but companies have to realise that they can’t prop up their profits or create a sustainable industry by attacking their workers." John Boland

A spokesman for Shell said: "We are disappointed to learn of the decision by Unite and the RMT to embark upon further industrial action.

"The UK oil and gas industry faces unprecedented challenges in light of the lower oil price environment.  

"Structural change is essential if the North Sea is to remain competitive. We would encourage Wood Group management and employees to continue with their discussions so that a resolution to this action may be found."

Picture courtesy of Michael Elleray

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