Photo: Clair Ridge platform; Source: BP

Pay dispute escalates as North Sea workers resort to strike action on multiple oil & gas platforms

UK’s Unite the union has confirmed that hundreds of offshore workers – employed by Petrofac on assets operated by Repsol and BP in the North Sea – have decided to down their tools and take industrial action due to an ongoing dispute over pay and work conditions.

The second wave of strikes comes after offshore workers working for Petrofac on Repsol’s platforms, took part in strike action with a continuous overtime ban and 48-hour stoppage on 16 and 17 November 2022, following a notice of action, which Unite the union served to Petrofac two weeks prior to the strike.

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In an update on Thursday, Unite confirmed that around 146 members working for Petrofac on Repsol’s assets would start strike action on 8 and 9 December as a result of an ongoing, and “increasingly bitter” dispute over pay and working terms. The union outlined that the dispute relates to the removal of a 10 per cent equal time payment, years of below inflationary pay increases, and issues around payments for OEUK medicals, mileage and stand in duties.

In addition, a separate dispute will see 76 Unite members working for Petrofac at the BP-operated platforms – Andrew, Clair, Clair Ridge, ETAP, and Glen Lyon – in the North Sea embark on strike action on 8 and 9 December. This dispute centres on the working rotation, which is currently a work 3 on/3 off rotation. Unite highlighted that an industrial action ballot returned a result of 98.3 per cent in favour of industrial action.

John Boland, Unite industrial officer, on behalf of the workforce, stated: “Our members have faced a real terms pay cut and an attack on their working terms over years as a result of them taking Petrofac’s word that they would do the right thing. 

“The workers involved in these disputes are resolute in their determination to continue with ongoing action until their claims are met. Petrofac can not only afford to pay up and settle this dispute, they should do so now in order that workers on these installations can get on with the job.”

The union anticipates that the strike action at the Repsol-operated assets and at those operated by BP will likely cause “considerable disruption.”

Sharon Graham, Unite general secretary, commented: “Offshore oil and gas companies are making eye-watering profits yet are playing Scrooge when it comes to the workers that create those profits. Instead of working to resolve this dispute management are prolonging it. 

“Their actions are those of a greedy and callous employer hell-bent on making their workers worse off while their shareholders bathe in the wealth created by my members. Unite supports, and will continue to support our members at Petrofac for as long as it takes for them to achieve a resolution.”