North Sea oil caterers vote for strike action


Offshore caterers set to strike after pay deal canceled

Offshore caterers in the Unite union have voted to strike over their employers, the Caterers Offshore Trade Association (COTA), reneging on the second year of a 1.3 per cent pay increase over two years.

Workers voted 54.2 per cent in favour of strike action and 62.7 per cent in favour of action short of a strike in the Unite ballot.

Unite regional officer John Boland said: “The result shows that the majority of our COTA members are not prepared to sit back and let employers worth billions revoke their pay agreement – the 1.3 per cent required to settle this dispute is mere drop in the ocean for companies like Sodexho.

“We are not blind to the significant challenges facing our industry, our members have been at the coal-face of the downturn from the start, but it sets a dangerous precedent for employment rights if companies are able to impose change without negotiation and that’s why we are looking at a strike scenario.”

North Sea oil has been hit by a number of crises in recent years. In July Oil and Gas UK, a lobby representing oil corporations, estimated that 5,500 jobs had been lost in the North Sea oil sector as oil prices have tumbled to as low as $50 a barrel.

The chaotic economic situation has compounded worsening relations between employers and the workforce, with 93.5 percent of offshore workers voting for industrial action in a consultation carried out by Unite in February and March 2015.

However, Boland said that Unite would continue to try and resolve the caterers dispute through talks: “We are disappointed the employers have chosen not to resolve this matter amicably and the door remains open for discussion, whether it’s face to face or through the auspices of ACAS, if they want to avoid serious disruption to catering and ancillary services across the North Sea but we are rapidly running out of time.”

The union said that should the strike go ahead all production on the UK continental shelf would be impacted.

Picture courtesy of Richard Child