Unite backs call for public investment in North Sea assets



Unite backs call for public investment in North Sea assets


Unite is urging the Scottish Government to back Scottish Labour’s call for public investment in crucial North Sea assets at risk of being scrapped amid the oil downturn.

North-East MSP Lewis Macdonald has tabled a motion at Holyrood suggesting the SNP administration and UK Government use their borrowing powers to buy a stake in infrastructure such as pipelines and platforms.

It will be debated at the Scottish Parliament today.

As the Press and Journal revealed earlier this week, a similar motion will be brought forward at Scottish Labour’s conference this weekend.

Drafted by Aberdeen South and North Kincardine constituency Labour party (CLP), it urges both the UK and Scottish Governments to temporarily acquire strategically important assets.

Some 120,000 posts have been axed in the last two years as oil prices plummeted, according to estimates.

Unite Scottish Secretary Pat Rafferty said the union’s members were the worst affected by the crisis and acknowledged the sector was going through a difficult time.

But he insisted that with the “right support” it had a future.

He added: “The Scottish Government can’t do everything to help us out of these difficulties, but it should be leading by example.

“This motion calls on the Scottish Government to start discussions with the UK Government, industry and trade unions to create a plan for co-investment that will support jobs, increase confidence and create returns to the public purse.

“We hope every MSP will support the motion. Our members in the sector expect nothing less.”

Mr Macdonald said he hoped to secure commitments from SNP ministers to explore the possibility of a “more pro-active response to the downturn in the North Sea”.

On the question of public investment, Scottish Business and Energy Minister Paul Wheelhouse said the Scottish Government had long called for reform to the fiscal regime, including improved access to decommissioning tax relief.

He added: “The Scottish Government has repeatedly demanded action from UK ministers, who retain the key economic levers to ensure the industry and its workforce have the future they deserve.”

He also pointed to the Oil and Gas Industry Leadership Group, £12million Transition Training Fund, the newly launched technology centre and the Energy Jobs Taskforce.

A spokesman for the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy insisted the UK Government had already provided “extensive support” in response to falling oil prices through a £2.3billion package of measures.

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