Mariner platform; Credit: Jamie Baikie/Equinor

Strike action at North Sea platform taken off the table as offshore drillers’ battle for work-life balance pays off

More than 100 offshore workers employed by Odfjell Technology, who are working on Equinor’s platform in the UK sector of the North Sea, have called off industrial action after securing improvements to working rotation.

Mariner platform; Credit: Jamie Baikie/Equinor

With all deck crew involved in the dispute, over 100 offshore drillers and members of the UK’s Unite the union, who work on Equinor’s Mariner platform, recently voted unanimously in favor of industrial action and a continuous overtime ban.

As a result, the strike action was supposed to entail a series of 24-hour strikes taking place every Monday, Wednesday, and Saturday for 12 consecutive weeks, starting on Monday, January 29, and ending on Saturday, April 20, with a continuous overtime ban in place throughout the 12 weeks.

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However, things took a turn for the better in the meantime, culminating in the UK union‘s announcement on Friday, January 26, which confirmed that the dispute was brought to an end, following a new working rotation for these offshore drillers.

Vic Fraser, Unite Industrial Officer, highlighted: “The Odfjell deal is another great result for Unite members in the offshore sector. Not only does this deal give the drillers a safer work and life balance, but it also delivers parity with other workers on the Mariner platform. The deal will also directly benefit Odfjell and Equinor by retaining a highly skilled workforce onboard the Mariner.”

The newly minted deal enables Odfjell Technology’s drillers to shift to an improved working rotation of two weeks on and three weeks off, which was at the center of the dispute. This is not all since the deal also comes with enhancements to pay, terms, and conditions.

Sharon Graham, Unite General Secretary, commented: “The Odfjell drillers have proven what can be achieved when Unite members are organized and when they are prepared to fight their employer head-on for decent jobs, pay and conditions. This is another significant win for Unite which demonstrates why it is the nation’s leading offshore trade union.”

Currently, Unite is involved in a series of disputes as its offshore members fight for a better work and life balance, including ongoing industrial action ballots involving chemists, heating, and ventilation engineers employed by IES Callenberg and SGS UK Limited.

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According to the UK union, its offshore members are increasingly recording concerns over physical and mental burnout, fatigue, and stress due to staff shortages. Many offshore workers not only work 12-hour shifts for three weeks at a time but also need to conduct any required training during their field breaks.