COTA STRIKE: FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

2 support the strike

Unite the union members who are employees of Aramark, Sodexo, Entier, Compass, ESS and Trinity, who work in the UKCS offshore sector and are under the COTA agreement in pay grades A-E have voted and mandated the union to take strike action and action short of strike.

The ballot results showed a majority voted 54.2% for strike action and 62.7% for action short of strike action. Unite offshore catering branch recommended that members voted Yes for Industrial action and Yes for industrial action up to and including strike action in the legal postal industrial ballot.

They are now recommending that you support any upcoming Industrial action that the branch calls on you to take. Industrial action is a key part of your Unions tactics to help win on pay.

Unite has always left the door open for pay talks to resume and are willing to enter meaningful negotiations to achieve a settlement to your pay dispute. COTA are refusing to open up any dialogue and this could mean that Unite will call on you to support Industrial Action in furtherance of the dispute.

Some members will have questions about taking part in industrial action and below are some answers to some frequently asked questions (FAQ’s). Please ensure that you circulate this document to Unite members on your installation.

This guide covers the technical aspects of taking strike action, and a strike committee comprised of unite members has been formed to look at maximising the tactics in order that we can win the dispute. Unite will be campaigning in the coming weeks to strengthen the union and speak to as many workers in the North Sea as possible about the action.

Taking strike is always a last resort. We’ve been put in this position by the COTA companies unreasonable behaviour. WE’ve always left the door open for them to come back and talk, and this will remain the case up until we strike. By standing together against the removal of a reasonable and negotiated pay deal, we can hope to get the employers back to the table.

Should I take strike action?
All eligible UNITE members are expected to participate in lawful industrial action called following the ballot of members. The executive has taken the decision based on the outcome of the ballot to proceed with industrial action. In these circumstances then you are expected to take action
What should I do after the ballot result?
Unite only takes Industrial action once every other avenue of influence and negotiation has been exhausted. It is not a decision taken lightly. Unite officials and Strike committee took the decision to progress to strike action following an industrial action ballot ,that showed a majority of members who voted, voted to take strike action and action short of strike

We recognise that taking Industrial action is very serious, which is why Unite asks that you and every other member observes the ballot . Every member who does not take part in strike action undermines our bargaining power you have and makes it harder for us to protect all of you collectively our members.

When will the strike action take place?

Due to the complex statutory strike laws Unite has to give the employers notice of any action within 7 days of the ballot result and the first action must take place within 28 days of the ballot result

When will I know what and when action is?

Unite regional office in Aberdeen will co-ordinate any industrial action and communications around the strike directly to our members (please update your contact details with Unite ASAP )

Do I have to tell my employer that I am in the union?
No, Your employer might send you a formal-sounding letter asking you to declare in advance whether you are in the Union or balloting or intending in taking part in Industrial action. You are under no obligation to inform your employer in advance as to whether you will be taking part in Union activity.

Unite is legally required to give employers some statistical information about Unite members taking industrial action, but we do not give individual names of who are unite members or who is taking any Industrial action

How late can someone join the union and still take part in Industrial action ?
Employees can join the union at any point up to and including on the day of action and lawfully join the Industrial action, and they will be protected to take part in any industrial action
How will it affect my pension?
In some strikes (particularly short ones) employers may not withhold superannuation contributions and therefore participation in strike action has not generally affected pensions. Nonetheless it is a possibility. However institutions that do choose to withhold contributions usually make provision for members to make up pension and Additional Voluntary Contribution deficits from their pay.

Those in the COTA personal pension and for that matter in the Governments auto enrolment NEST pension contributions are based on a given % of earnings and this would be adjusted accordingly with earnings. There is no superannuation for these employees.

 know your rights (1)
Am I breaking my contract by taking strike action?
All effective industrial action is a breach of your contract of employment. However, Unite has carried out a lawful statutory ballot. The law protects workers from dismissal whilst taking part in lawful industrial action at any time within 12 weeks of the start of the action and, depending on the circumstances; dismissal may also be unfair if it takes place later.
 

How much money will I lose?

You should expect to have an equivalent pay deducted from your salary from the actual time you are on strike.
What if I am Ad- Hoc or seconded am I protected when on strike?
Exactly the same rules apply to ad-hoc workers involved in stike action as it does to other COTA graded employees.
Am not a Unite member. Can I take part in the strike?
We would like everyone to respect the Industrial Action or picket lines and not go into work, but if you are not a member of Unite you will not be legally covered and we will not be able to support you if the your company decides to take disciplinary action against you. However, you are able to join Unite and take part in action up to the day of the strike taking place.
What are the guidelines on emergency cover on the installation and strike action?

These details are currently being discussed and will be communicated in due course.

What are the next steps?
Unite offshore catering branch has set up a Strike committee who will liaise with all Unite reps who work offshore to keep them up to speed and keep communications between the Union and its members clear and debunk any rumours from management and Oil companies

Have a Unite Union point of contact on your rig who will be able to contact the Aberdeen Unite office during any Strike and Industrial action

Ask all non-union members who come under the COTA agreement to join Unite and support you in the strike action

Attend Unite offshore branch meeting: Unite Aberdeen office 44 King Street Aberdeen AB24 5TJ:

·                      Friday 06 Nov 10 am

·                      Friday 20 Nov 10 am

·                      Friday 27 Nov 10 am

Keep up to date with Unite communications:

·                      Website:  www.uniteoffshore2015.org

·                      Facebook :Unite offshore on Facebook

·                      Twitter :@UniteOffshore

·                      COTA Industrial Action Unite news website press release http://www.unitetheunion.org/news/unite-calls-for-urgent-talks-as-offshore-caterers-vote-for-industrial-action/

·                      ERS  Letter on ballot resulthttp://www.unitetheunion.org/uploaded/documents/0152-Cota-ag-res-21101511-24473.pdf

Unite contact: John Boland Regional Officer

E-Mail John.boland@unitetheunion.org

Tel – 01224 645 271

Aberdeen Office

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