Unite Scotland Press Release: Friday 8 July 2016Acas talks collapse as Wood Group refuses to back down over ‘swingeing pay cuts’Talks at the conciliation service Acas broke down today (Friday 8 July) after Wood Group refused to reconsider swingeing 30 per cent pay cuts on eight of Shell’s North Sea oil and gas platforms.The breakdown in talks comes ahead of the result of an industrial action ballot of members of Britain’s largest union, Unite on Wednesday 13 July. Expressing its ‘bitter disappointment’ over Wood Group’s refusal to significantly change its position, Unite urged the firm to start negotiating meaningfully to find a settlement prior to any industrial action.More than 200 North Sea oil rig workers have been balloted for strike action over a swingeing 30 per cent pay cut on eight of Shell’s North Sea oil and gas platforms,once reductions to base rates and other allowances are added in. Workers have already seen significant reductions in allowances over the last two years and recent changes have also seen workers move to a three-week offshore working cycle.Unite highlighted that the only movement that has been proposed by Wood Group during talks, were small reductions to the large cuts to sickness pay and travel allowances, and retaining existing life insurance. There has been no change in Wood Groups proposal to make large reductions to base pay and the removal of a number of existing allowances.Unite regional officer, John Boland said: “Unite is bitterly disappointed and dismayed at the unwillingness of Wood Group to meaningfully negotiate and work with us to reach an agreed settlement.“The company has refused to move on any of the major issues and seems determined to force this issue into an industrial dispute. We have repeatedly said that our members are not immune to the challenges facing the oil and gas industry but Wood Group must work with us in order to meet them.“This cannot mean the imposition of swinging cuts of up to 30 per cent on workers who work in one of the most challenging environments in the world. We urge the Wood Group to start negotiating meaningfully to avoid the disruption that possible industrial action could have.”The RMT union is also balloting its members working for the Wood Group with the result also due on Wednesday 13 July.Wood Group is a multinational oil and gas services company with its headquarters in Aberdeen. The employees being balloted are working on the Shell ISC contract.ENDSFor further information please contact Unite regional officer John Boland on 01224 645271 or 07918630435 or Unite head of media and campaigns Alex Flynn on 020 3371 2066 or 07967 665869.Notes to editors:
- On 27 May, talks over pay, proposed cuts and changes to working conditions by the Wood Group broke down. The dispute – raised under the OCA (Offshore Contractors’ Association) agreement – was confirmed after a meeting involving union representatives and Wood Group management.
- In March, nearly 95 per cent of union members voted in a consultative ballot in favour of proceeding to an industrial action ballot.
- 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.