ABERDEEN, UK – Members of Scottish union Unite have voted to end an industrial dispute that led to the first North Sea strike in a generation.
In July, Unite members working on Shell platforms across the North Sea started a 24-hour strike action after rejecting proposed cuts by their employer, the oil facilities company Wood Group. The workers faced losing up to 30% in pay and allowances.
Unite members were also joined in the stoppage by Britain’s National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT) and received the “100% support” of Norwegian unions. At that time, Unite said 99.1% of its affected members voted in favor of the action with 98.5% of RMT members sanctioning the strike. The strike was reported to have disrupted operations on Shell’s platforms on the Brent field in the northern North Sea and others in the central North Sea.
Originally, the initial 24-hour stoppage was to have been repeated; however, in August, Wood Group and both unions issued a joint statement saying that further strike action would be suspended because talks had resumed. A proposal to end the dispute was brought before members on Sept. 12, and the union announced today, Sept. 22, that it had been accepted by 105 votes to 82.
In response to today’s news, Unite Regional Officer John Boland said in a statement: “Our negotiations with Wood Group allowed us to reduce the levels of cuts being proposed to our members’ wages and terms and conditions.
“We were able to secure improvements to competency payments and the introduction of a flexibility payment. Threats to life insurance, health care and sick pay have been removed.
“We have a commitment to greater work security for ad-hoc workers, and they now have greater opportunities to progress into permanent posts.
“As ever, our members have shown themselves willing to be open to meaningful negotiations and are not blind to the challenges facing the offshore sector in these difficult times – but they have also shown they will not be treated unfairly.
“I would like to pay tribute to all the stewards and members who stayed united, strong, and determined during this dispute. They can be proud of the way they stood by each other in this difficult time.”