Photo: Illustration; Source: CNR International

UK union slams ‘draconian’ jab or job policy by North Sea operator

Oil and gas workers’ union, Unite Scotland, has demanded intervention by the Scottish government in response to Canadian Natural Resources (CNR) International introducing mandatory vaccinations, calling these measures “draconian.”

According to the union, the policy, which came into full effect on 14 January, is believed to be the first of any offshore contractor or operator to demand that its workforce receive Covid-19 related vaccinations or not return to work.

The union further stated that no worker is now permitted by CNR to mobilise onto any of the North Sea platformsNinian Central, Ninian South, and Tiffany – it operates unless they have been vaccinated. CNR has also informed its contracting firms working on these platforms including Petrofac, Aker, EnerMech, Bilfinger, and Global E&C that no worker is to return unless they are vaccinated, the union said.

In a statement on Tuesday, Unite confirmed it is looking at legal action against any company seeking to pursue a ‘jab or job’ policy.

The union pointed out that other offshore contractors and operators have chosen not to pursue mandatory vaccinations but instead focus on education and communication to boost vaccination take-up. It is understood that similar drives by other firms have led to over 80 per cent of the offshore workforce being vaccinated, the union said. Oil and Gas UK has also encouraged vaccine take-up but not through mandatory enforcement.

Offshore Energy has reached out to CNR International, seeking comment on these reports. A spokesperson for CNR told us that the company has implemented extensive measures to reduce the risk of exposure and transmission of Covid-19 in its operations, including a vaccination policy.

The spokesperson further added: “Our decisions are made with the health and safety of all company staff and individuals working with CNR International in mind. We have been liaising closely with contracting companies to encourage their offshore employees not yet vaccinated to join the majority of the offshore crew who are. This includes providing access to medical professionals, help in addressing any concerns or logistical barriers to vaccination, and granting exceptions, where appropriate. To date, the response to this approach has been positive, with a significant majority of our offshore workforce now vaccinated.”

John Boland, Unite industrial officer, said: “Unite has now taken the step to demand intervention and support by the Scottish government over CNR’s draconian measures. Our position is that we support workers getting the Covid-19 vaccination but we are strenuously opposed to any mandatory vaccination policy.”

Boland also emphasised: “We will not hesitate to challenge any employer, including CNR, that disciplines or dismisses our members for exercising their right not to be vaccinated including the consideration of legal action.”

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While the Scottish union claims that no operator has so far introduced the mandatory vaccination measures, over in Norway, Aker BP is planning to introduce requirements for Covid protection for its workers travelling offshore. Much like in Scotland, Norway’s union has criticised the decision, emphasising the disappointment with the company’s approach.