1,350 offshore workers will cause multiple platforms to cease their operations.

A massive pay dispute is expected to result in a tsunami of industrial action against major oil and gas operators such as bp, Shell, and Total. Unite the Union has declared a major 48-hour work stoppage as part of this campaign.

Unite the Union has announced an extraordinary 48-hour work stoppage as part of a “tsunami” of industrial unrest in the offshore industry. The trade union has reported that 1,350 workers from five different companies will take part in the strike action to demand improvements in pay, jobs, and working conditions.

The strike action, scheduled from April 24-26, is expected to bring the platforms and offshore facilities of major oil and gas operators to a “standstill.” The companies affected by the action include bp, CNRI, EnQuest, Harbour Energy, Ithaca, Shell, and Total.

Unite general secretary, Sharon Graham, has stated that oil and gas companies operating in the offshore sector are currently experiencing record profits. As such, contractors and operators can easily afford to provide a reasonable pay increase for their Unite members. She further added that the offshore industry’s level of corporate greed must be challenged. Unite will support all its members in their quest for better jobs, pay, and working conditions as 1,350 offshore workers participate in an unprecedented 48-hour tsunami of industrial action, with hundreds more expected to follow suit.

The strike action will affect Bilfinger UK Ltd., Petrofac Facilities Management, Stork Technical Services, Sparrows Offshore Services, and Worley Services UK Ltd. The workforce includes a range of roles, such as electrical, production and mechanical technicians, deck crew, scaffolders, crane operators, pipefitters, platers, and riggers.

Unite’s industrial officer, John Boland, noted that the union has received strong support for the strike action, which is historic and the biggest offshore stoppage in a generation. Unite’s members are determined to secure fair treatment and improve their working environment. The issues at stake include not only pay but also working rotas, holidays, and offshore safety. The workforce has been taken for granted for many years, but their value will become apparent as the strike action brings dozens of platforms to a standstill.

Unite has recently criticized the UK government’s lack of action in taxing oil firms. This comes as bp posted record profits of £23 billion ($28.5 billion) in 2022, and Shell reported earnings of £32 billion ($39.7 billion), bringing the combined total profits of the top two energy companies in Britain to a record £55 billion ($68.3 billion).

Details of the disputes

Around 700 offshore workers employed by Bilfinger UK Ltd. will undertake a 48-hour strike action in a pay dispute. These workers are seeking a pay increase above the base rate set in the Energy Services Agreement for 2022. The strike is scheduled for April 24 to 25.

More than 360 construction workers from Stork will also take part in a 48-hour strike over a dispute concerning working rotas and pay rates. The strike action is scheduled for April 24 to 26.

Around 50 members of Unite, who are employed by Petrofac Facilities Management Limited on the FPF1 platform, will also undertake strike action in a dispute over imposed clawback days. The offshore workers can be required to work without additional payment, but Ithaca Energy, the operator, has a policy of 14 clawback days, twice the industry norm of seven. The 48-hour strike is scheduled for April 24 to 26.

In addition, around 50 Unite members employed by Worley Services UK will undertake 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, including Britannia, Jade, Judy, and Jasmine. The 48-hour strike action is scheduled for April 24 to 26.

The announcement comes after about 150 Sparrows Offshore Services workers took 48-hour strike action this week across more than 20 oil and gas platforms in a pay dispute. The action impacted several major operators such as Shell, Apache, and Harbour Energy. The planned strike action for this group has been rescheduled to take place from April 24 to 25 instead of April 19-21.

Unite also has strike mandates at Petrofac BP, covering around 100 members, and more than 80 members employed by the Wood Group on TAQA assets, but strike dates have not been announced for these disputes.

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