Fresh contractor pay cuts ‘intensifying race to the bottom’ across North Sea

Please see Unite press release on Woodgroup’s announcement

Unite, the UK’s biggest offshore trade union, has reiterated its warning to the UK and Scottish governments that a new wave of cuts to offshore contractors pay rates will intensify a race to the bottom in employment standards across the UK Continental Shelf (UKCS).

The warning follows an announcement this morning (Friday 19 February) by Wood Group PSN that it plans to reduce the rates paid to a third of its UK-based contractors by 9 per cent, the third time the company has cut contractor rates since May 2014.

Unite has previously called for emergency tax breaks to alleviate pressure on the industry and release crucial finance to sustain existing jobs, skills and standards across the UKCS, which has been disproportionately affected in comparison with other oil producing regions during the oil price crisis.

Unite regional officer John Boland said: “This is another blow for our members in the Wood Group who have already suffered cuts to their rates of up to 20 per cent, in the worst case examples, over the last two years.

“Our big fear is that this latest cut will spark another domino effect across offshore contractor firms, intensifying the pace of a race to the bottom on jobs, pay, skills and working-time.

“The consequences for employment standards in the offshore sector could be dire where the future outlook is fewer employees working longer and harder for increasingly less.

“Time and again we have warned government about the seriousness of what is happening in our oil and gas sector but the responses so far have amounted to sticking a plaster on a gaping wound.

“How much longer must the offshore work force, which is eroding by the day, need to wait for a meaningful intervention


For further information please contact Unite regional officers in Aberdeen John Boland on 07918 630435 and Tommy Campbell on 07810 157920 or Peter Welsh, Unite Scotland Communications on 07810 157931.



Unite the Union COTA branch meetings Feb/March 2016

Unite Offshore Catering Branch Member

Please be advised that the next  Catering Branch Meeting to be held at Unite Office, 42-44 King Street, Aberdeen, AB24 5TJ commencing 10am will be:

Friday 18th March

All branch members are invited to attend. As discussed at previous Branch meetings, should any Shop Steward or member be able to ensure sufficient numbers, the Unite Offshore Catering Branch will consider holding extra Branch meetings in other geographical locations of the UK. Please be aware that numbers must justify the expense of the Branch Officials attending these meetings.
Should any Shop Steward feel they are prevented from attending Branch meeting due to the cost associated they should write the branch explaining their situation so the Branch can consider what assistance can be provided.

Please sign and share the following petition and circulate as widely as possible. All offshore workers, family’s and friends are encouraged to sign the petition.
Politicians must support Oil and Gas workers. Taking part in this petition will make a difference
Unite is urging a summit to be convened of politicians, oil and gas companies and offshore trade unions to find a solution that protects jobs, workers, skills and the long term stability of the UKCS, Oil & Gas sector. We call on the ministers responsible, Amber Rudd MP, and Fergus Ewing MSP to convene a summit immediately.…

More information
Visit the dedicated campaign website at
Follow @UniteOffshore on twitter
Like Unite offshore on Facebook

Latest campaign news- See more at:…/sc…/unite-offshore-campaign/…











Unite the Union COTA branch meetings

  •  Friday   26 February  2016  @ 10 am
  •   Friday   04 March  2016   @ 10 am
  •   Friday    18 March  2016   @ 10 am

Venue : Unite  Aberdeen  office , 44 King Aberdeen , Street AB24 5TJ

All Unite COTA  members welcome  for more information please contact Unite Aberdeen Office on 01224 645  271


Working party for OCA salaried staff – you views needed

As part of the new OCA agreement 2016, a joint working party has been set up to look into the complex issues surrounding OCA salaried staff.

In order for your views to be reflected at the working party we are looking for OCA salaried workers to complete this short survey.

This information will be collated and submitted by your Unite representatives on the joint working party.





Sign our petition – Politicians must support Oil and Gas workers

Unite is urging a summit to be convened of politicians, oil and gas companies and offshore trade unions to find a solution that protects jobs, workers, skills and the long term stability of the UKCS, Oil & Gas sector.  We call on the ministers responsible, Amber Rudd MP,and Fergus Ewing MSP to convene a summit immediately.

Please sign and share this petition as wide as possible. All offshore workers, familys and friends are encouraged to sign the petition.

Taking part in this petition will make a difference.




Offshore trade unions launch new co-ordinating group in response to North Sea crisis

Scottish Trade Union Congress (STUC) press release on the new off shore co-ordinating group (OCG)

A PDF is attached which outlines the role of the OGC.

Speaking at the launch in Aberdeen of the Offshore Co-ordinating Group (OCG), Grahame Smith, STUC General Secretary said:

“The collapse in the oil price since summer 2014 has had profound consequences for the oil and gas workforce. There have been thousands of job losses, unprecedented attacks on terms and conditions and growing fears over the safety regime.

“Recognising the scale of the challenges, the offshore unions (UNITE, RMT, GMB, BALPA and Nautilus), supported by the STUC, have come together to form the Offshore Co-ordinating Group which is launched today. Through co-ordinating campaigns and policy development, the OCG will support the fightback on jobs, safety and terms and conditions and ensure that trade unions make a positive contribution to achieving the UK and Scottish Governments’ objective of maximising economic recovery.

“The OCG strongly believes there is a future worth fighting for and, in the State of the Industry report published today, a number of areas for priority action are highlighted. These include the necessity of building and maintaining excellent health and safety standards and processes, adhering to collective agreements and developing a coherent plan for maximising economic recovery.

“It is essential that Government, employers, regulators and agencies listen to the united voice of the offshore workforce”

OCG State of Industry Report Feb 2016

Unite will keep all our members updated on the work of this group as it takes your issues forward.

Speaking as one Offshore trade unions join forces to confront oil crisis

Speaking as one

Offshore trade unions join forces to confront oil crisis

Hajera Blagg, Friday, February 5th, 2016

A shadow is cast over Aberdeen, as one of the most prosperous cities in the UK now bears witness to queues outside the door at food banks, formed virtually overnight.
The oil industry has been shaken to its foundations and the crisis shows no sign of abating anytime soon. The price of Brent crude oil plummeted at one point this year to less than $30 a barrel – that’s a 70 per cent price drop in only 18 months.
To put this figure into perspective, a decade ago, $90 to $100 a barrel was considered normal.
News of the latest raft of job losses came this week, when Shell announced decimated annual profits of 80 per cent, and added that they plan to shed 10,000 jobs globally.
Another major oil company, BP, also announced its intention to axe 7,000 jobs this week, after posting an annual loss of £4.5bn – the worst performance in its entire history.
‘Not your typical oil bust’
These job losses are neither the end nor the beginning. It’s been estimated that an astounding 70,000 oil-related jobs in the UK have gone since the slump in oil prices in January 2015, a figure which could nearly treble by the time oil prices start to climb again – that’s half the entire UK oil workforce.
Oil has always had cyclical periods of “boom and bust” but industry experts say that the downturn in prices may persist far longer than anything we’ve ever seen.
“There are a number of things happening on the global stage that’s causing the crisis – it’s not your typical oil bust,” explained Unite Scottish secretary Pat Rafferty. “There’s the glut in supply that may be exacerbated by Iran coming back into the market. There’s also the declining Chinese economy and weakening demand, among other issues.”
“What this is not is a North Sea crisis – there’s still plenty of oil there and plenty of future potential,” he added. “It just needs the investment and support.”
Still, an analysis by industry certification body DNV GL showed the impact of the downturn on employment has hit the North Sea the hardest.
Skills crisis
DNV GL oil and gas regional director for the UK Hari Vamadevan warned that oil companies aren’t learning the lessons from past boom and bust cycles, when the industry axed jobs to cut costs during a downturn but ultimately paid dearly afterwards with a protracted skills gap.
“As an industry, we have taken quick, cost-cutting action, which has been particularly apparent through a raft of major job cuts over the past 12 months, and further short-term measures are expected, despite concerns over the skills drain,” Vamadevan said.
This is precisely why Unite has argued against slashing jobs in the North Sea – by oil companies attempting to weather a temporary, if lengthy economic downturn through vicious cost-cutting measures, the damage could very well become permanent.
“The skills drain is a huge concern,” explained Unite regional officer Tommy Campbell. “I work with scaffolders and they’re certified to work specifically in oil and gas. When they lose their jobs, maybe they’ll find work on the mainland and eventually their certification runs out. They may never return, and with them will go all those valuable skills that the industry needs.”
Campbell noted that one of the ways in which skills can be retained is by job sharing instead of all-out job cuts.
“We’ve also suggested looking at having younger employees paired with older employees who will be phasing themselves out, so they can hand these skills to the younger workforce.”
“But they’re hasn’t been much interest among employers; they seem to be only fixated on the short-term,” he said. “That’s why state intervention is necessary — for the future of the workforce and the future of the industry.”
Health and safety
For those still lucky enough to have their jobs, offshore workers face decimated terms and conditions as their employers rush to cut costs and appease shareholders – and it could very well be risking workers’ lives.
As oil companies seek to be as efficient as possible, cutting every possible corner means health and safety, too, is placed on the backburner.
Oil companies are trying to make do with less during the downturn, so many of them have switched to what’s called a 3/3 rota. Oil workers are forced to work for three weeks straight on twelve-hour shifts each day, followed by a three-week break.
But Campbell explained that this shift pattern is unsustainable – and extremely dangerous.
“If you were an ambulance service or a fire service, and you went to the Scottish parliament to ask permission for your workforce to work three weeks straight with no break, you’d be laughed out of parliament. Why should it be any different with workers in the oil industry?”
Major oil companies, however, deny that there is a problem, Campbell said. “They say ‘Well there’s no evidence that these work patterns put workers at risk’.”
“But are we going to have to wait until there’s a major incident to do something about it? We’ve spoken to offshore medics and we’ve heard stories that more and more workers are coming to them complaining about fatigue.”
“The workforce is absolutely knackered,” he noted. “And even a 3/3 rota is often not adhered to. Sometimes you’ll have a chopper facing delays in picking up offshore workers at the end of the third week because of poor weather conditions.
“Workers can agree to not work after their shift is over but of course employers encourage them to do so. Let’s not forget, too, that many of these workers aren’t young – they’ve been in the industry for 25 or 30 years.
“But they just keep their head down and do as they’re told because, especially at this time, they fear losing their jobs. It’s effectively a form of blackmail.”
One voice 

The situation may seem helpless, but as with the foundering steel industry, that doesn’t mean nothing can be done.
Unite, along with other offshore trade unions, have banded together to seek immediate solutions that will not only stem growing job losses but ensure that there is a future for oil.
On Monday (February 8), Unite, the largest offshore trade union, will join the RMT, the GMB, Balpa, and Nautilus in a Scottish TUC-coordinated press conference to speak as one voice representing hundreds of thousands of oil workers.
“This conference is a loud and clear signal that we as a whole are working as one to show that we acknowledge the crisis in the oil industry and that we need to urgently come up with a plan,” explained Rafferty.
“And at the forefront of this plan is protecting jobs and terms and conditions as well as standing strong on health and safety standards,” he said.
Rafferty also last week called for an urgent summit, with the aim of bringing together all interested parties, including industry, the Scottish and Westminster governments, as well as trade unions.
“We’ll be demanding fiscal measures from both governments to address the crisis,” he said. “A number of interventions can help ease the pain as the industry weathers the storm, including tax relief.”
At the same time, Rafferty emphasised, any measure that’s called for must “be for the protection of the workforce and not to prop up oil companies’ profit margins”.
“Let’s be clear – despite the crisis, oil companies are still making money,” Rafferty noted. “They’re far from being skint.”
“Oil companies have had tax breaks recently, but so far they have not passed on that relief to their workers, whose jobs are being slashed and whose terms and conditions are being destroyed. They’ve got be held accountable.”
Unite assistant general secretary Tony Burke echoed the urgent need for a summit, similar to a summit held in October to address the crisis in steel.



“The offshore oil industry is going through the worst crisis ever, with the price of Brent crude going down to $30 a barrel and falling,” he said. “There’s no evidence we’ve seen that that figure is going to go northwards back to anywhere near $50 for quite some time. The industry’s got to learn how to deal with this and we’ve got bring people together. We can’t be doing this on the basis breaking up skilled workforces.”



“That’s the aim of the press conference on Monday — for all the trade unions to speak as one in order unite and protect the workforce at this moment of crisis.



Stay tuned on UNITElive for updates after the offshore trade unions press conference on Monday.

Unite the Union calls for emergency tax measures to save future North Sea production

Unite calls for emergency tax measures to save future North Sea production

04 February 2016

Unite, Britain’s biggest offshore oil trade union, has warned the UK government that billion-pound losses announced this week by oil industry super-majors could, without serious interventions, bring an end to meaningful production in the North Sea within years.

Shell heaped more misery on the industry this morning (Thursday 4 February), announcing a drop in annual profits of 80 per cent to £2.6 billion and confirming cuts to 10,000 jobs worldwide, while BP had previously reported losses of £4.5 billion and Exxon Mobile posted a 58 per cent drop in fourth-quarter earnings.

Earlier this week findings from the industry certification body DNV GL showed the impact of the downturn on employment has been more acute across the North Sea than any other region, giving further rise to trade union fears of insufficient skill levels offshore with cuts being made too deep and too fast.

Over 70,000 oil-related jobs across the UK have now been lost since the oil price slump in January 2015 with grim forecasts that as many as 200,000 could be shed before the crisis eases.

Unite Scottish Secretary Pat Rafferty said: “The impact on jobs and skills for the UK oil and gas sector due to these staggering profit losses could be disastrous unless the government steps in with significant interventions.

“Emergency tax measures should be implemented as soon as possible by the Chancellor so we can sustain jobs and skills as best as we possibly can, giving North Sea oil and gas production a fighting chance for the future.

“Left unchecked these losses will cascade onto offshore contractors and UK supply chains with inevitable consequences, potentially taking us beyond the point of no return.”

Unite National Officer for Oil Tony Devlin, added: “We need genuine co-operation between government, industry and trade unions to alleviate the increasing pressure on the sector while protecting employment rights.

“That’s why Unite is calling for the UK and Scottish governments to pull together an industry summit as soon as possible.

“It’s too late for the tens of thousands who have already lost their livelihoods but hundreds of thousands more are reliant on the next steps of our political leaders and they are desperately looking for commitments and common purpose.”


For further information please contact Unite Regional Officers in Aberdeen Tommy Campbell 01224 645 271 and John Boland 01224 645 271  or Peter Welsh 0141 404 5424  and Alex Flynn on 07967 665869.

Twitter: @Unitescotland
Facebook: UniteScotland

Unite Scotland is the country’s biggest and most diverse trade union with 150,000 members across the economy. The union is led in Scotland by Pat Rafferty.

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