Photo: Petrofac

UK offshore workers down tools over pay dispute

UK’s Unite the union has confirmed that around 146 offshore workers – employed by Petrofac on the Repsol-operated assets in the North Sea – have opted to take strike action due to a dispute over pay terms and benefits.

This comes two weeks after Unite the union served a notice of action to Petrofac. In an update on Wednesday, the union disclosed that the strike was going ahead and outlined that its members, working for Petrofac on Repsol’s platforms, would take part in industrial action starting on 16 November 2022 with a continuous overtime ban and 48-hour stoppage taking place on 16 and 17 November.

In addition, a further 48-hour stoppage will take place on 30 November and 1 December. Unite claims that this action will cause “significant disruption” to the maintenance and safe running of the Arbroath, Auk, Bleo Holm, Claymore, Clyde, Fulmar, Montrose, Piper, Saltire and Tartan platforms, and the Flotta oil reception terminal on Orkney.

According to the Union, the dispute centres on the removal of a 10 per cent equal time payment, an additional 3 per cent increase on top to cover years of below inflationary increases, payment for OEUK medicals, increase in mileage payments and stand in duties payment.

John Boland, Unite regional officer, remarked: “The anger that my members have at being betrayed on a commitment made and accepted in good faith, is palpable. Petrofac should understand that their failure to be reasonable and fair with the workforce on an ongoing basis, continually leads to my members resorting to industrial action when they just want to get on with the job.

“Unite’s members are due a decent pay rise after years of below-inflation increases and they accepted the word of their employer that they would uphold a commitment to do just that. However, Petrofac have shown their true colours and broken their word and my members will no longer accept jam tomorrow.”

Back in 2020, Petrofac management reneged on a commitment to review benefits, blaming cuts on the downturn in oil and gas prices, highlighted the union. At that time, the average price of a barrel of Brent crude oil was around $18. However, as it now stands at around $98, Unite has demanded that the 10 per cent wage cut be reversed, with pay increases reflecting inflationary costs and that the offshore contractor fulfils its obligation to review the other payments.

Sharon Graham, Unite general secretary, commented: “Unite’s members at Petrofac’s Repsol assets have had enough. This organisation fails to realise that our members are resolute and determined to make sure the promise made back in 2020 to review the pay and benefits is fulfilled and will continue with action until it is.

Unite is 100 per cent with our Petrofac workers in seeking their demands for improvements on pay and benefits.”