Shell workers strike against 30 per cent wage cuts

26/07/2016
Nathanael Williams

Oil workers and companies clash as fall in profits sees wages cut

MEMBERS of the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union and Unite walked off Shell platforms owned by the Wood Group at 6.30am on Tuesday morning in a stike over pay.

Up to 400 workers are now on strike following an overwhelming vote in favour for action from the members of both unions. The reasons for the strike lie in the plan to cut workers' pay and allowances by up to 30 per cent following a widespread dip in profits for the industry.

Jake Molloy, regional organiser for the RMT, told BBC Radio Scotland that changes in shift patterns "equate to nearly five weeks' extra work for no additional income at all".

"For the workforce it's simply a case of enough is enough," he told the BBC’s Good Morning Scotland programme.

"Now the weather has turned for the industry, they are using the downturn to attack the pay, terms and conditions of our members." John Boland

He suggested any painful re-adjustments stemming from the drop in the price of oil should be picked up by shareholders and by Shell.

He said: "I don't see why the workforce should pick it up. This workforce have delivered consistently for over 30 years in some cases."

Unite regional officer, John Boland, on the Unite website said: "The dispute was the first in the North Sea for three decades and its members felt ‘backed into a corner’. To say we are disappointed it has had to come to this is an understatement, but bosses at Wood Group are simply not listening.

"Our members have been faced with changes to shift patterns which have seen them working longer offshore for the same pay and as well as having three rounds of redundancies imposed on them. This attack on their pay and allowances has pushed our members too far this time.

"For decades, oil and gas companies across the North Sea have made hay while the sun shone and become very profitable on the back of the hard work and dedication of our members. 

"Now the weather has turned for the industry, they are using the downturn to attack the pay, terms and conditions of our members."

RMT general secretary Mick Cash said in a press statement: "After savage redundancies and attacks on workload and working conditions, this group of offshore workers are now told that they are going to be railroaded into accepting pay cuts of up to 30 per cent.

"We are well aware that the company chief executive has had a pay increase of 28 per cent to bring him up to £600,000. It is obscene that while the top bosses are lining their own pockets they are kicking the workforce from pillar to post.

"This brave group of workers are taking a stand against the greed and savagery that is a mark of corporate Britain in 2016. They deserve the full support of the entire trade union movement."

"The company chief executive has had a pay increase of 28 per cent to bring him up to £600,000. It is obscene." Mike Cash

A Shell spokesman was quoted in Scottish Energy News as saying: "This action is highly regrettable and our priority is to ensure the safety of our workforce and assets and we will not compromise on safety during this period of industrial action.

"While we recognise the right of Wood Group’s employees to strike, it is clear that in order for the North Sea oil and gas industry to remain competitive in the lower oil price environment, structural change is needed.

"We hope that Wood Group’s employees and management will continue working towards reaching a solution which will halt this counter-productive industrial action."

Picture courtesy of Unite Offshore

Check out what people are saying about how important CommonSpace is. Pledge your support today