Unite the union

Pay dispute brings ‘unprecedented’ strike action to five major UK oil & gas operators

UK’s Unite the union has revealed a 48-hour stoppage on dozens of offshore platforms on the United Kingdom Continental Shelf (UKCS), as the wave of industrial action, which is set to hit oil and gas operators in a massive pay dispute, with 1,350 offshore workers expected to down tools, bringing operations to a standstill.

Unite the union

Unite the union predicted on Friday, 7 April 2023, that the strike action starting on 24 April until 26 April 2023 would bring platforms and the offshore installations of major oil and gas operators – BP, CNRI, EnQuest, Harbour Energy, Ithaca, Shell and TotalEnergies – to a standstill.

Sharon Graham, Unite general secretary, remarked: “Oil and gas companies in the offshore sector are enjoying record windfall profits. There’s no question that contractors and operators can easily afford to give Unite members a decent pay rise. The scale of corporate greed in the offshore sector has to be challenged.

“1,350 offshore workers will now take part in an unprecedented tsunami of industrial action over 48 hours with hundreds more set to join them. Unite will support all our members every step of the way in this fight for better jobs, pay and conditions“.

According to the trade union, the five companies to be impacted by the strike action are Bilfinger UK Limited, Petrofac Facilities Management, Stork Technical Services, Sparrows Offshore Services, and Worley Services UK Limited. The workforce includes electrical, production and mechanical technicians in addition to deck crew, scaffolders crane operators, pipefitters, platers, and riggers.

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Unite highlights that around 700 offshore workers at Bilfinger UK Limited will down tools as part of a pay dispute, as these workers are demanding an increase above the base rate of pay set in the Energy Services Agreement (ESA) for 2022. The 48-hour strike action will take place starting from 00:01 am on 24 April to 23:59 pm on 25 April.

Moreover, over 360 Stork construction workers will also take strike action in a dispute over working rotas and rates of pay with a 48-hour strike action expected to take place starting from 6:30 am on Monday, 24 April, until 6:29 am on Wednesday, 26 April.

Additionally, around 50 Unite members employed by Petrofac Facilities Management Limited on the FPF1 platform will take strike action in a dispute over imposed clawback days, as offshore workers can be asked to work at any time for no additional payment. The operator, Ithaca Energy, has a clawback policy of 14 days, double the industry norm of 7 days. The 48-hour strike action will take place starting from 6 am on Monday, 24 April until 5:59 am on Wednesday, 26 April.

Meanwhile, around 50 Unite members employed Worley Services UK will embark on strike action in a dispute over a base rate increase of £7 per hour, and standby payments to be 12 hours full pay. These workers are based on Harbour Energy platforms:’s Britannia, Jade, Judy and Jasmine. The 48-hour strike action will take place starting from 6 am on Monday, 24 April, until 5:59 am on Wednesday, 26 April.

This announcement follows a 48-hour strike action taken by around 150 Sparrows Offshore Services workers across more than 20 oil and gas platforms in a dispute over pay. The strike action impacts a number of major operators, including Shell, Apache and Harbour Energy. It will take place starting from 6:30 am on 24 April until 6:29 am on 25 April instead of 19 to 21 April, as previously announced.

In addition, Unite has strike mandates at Petrofac BP, covering around 100 members and over 80 members employed by the Wood Group on TAQA assets but no strike dates have been announced in relation to these disputes.

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John Boland, Unite industrial officer, commented: “Unite has received an emphatic mandate in support of strike action. It is historic and it will be the biggest offshore stoppage in a generation. Unite’s members are determined to get their fair share and to establish a better working environment. This is not exclusively about pay but also working rotas, holidays, and offshore safety. 

“The workforce has been taken for granted for years but now their value will be acutely felt when strike action will bring dozens of platforms to a standstill.”

Furthermore, Unite was among those who blasted the UK government’s inaction on taxing oil firms, as BP posted the biggest profits in its history, after Shell reports earnings of £32 billion (more than $38.4 billion), bringing the combined total profits of the top two energy companies in Britain to a record £55 billion (over $66 billion).