Socialist Worker

Anger could explode on North Sea oil rigs after workers vote for strikes

by Raymie Kiernan
Issue No. 2477

The North Sea oil offshore industry could soon be hit by its first strike since the 1990s. 

Unite union members working as caterers have voted by 54 percent to strike after bosses reneged on a pay deal.

They work for the six outsourcers that make up the Caterers Offshore Trade Association (Cota).  

Unite regional officer John Boland said, “The result shows that the majority of our Cota members are not prepared to sit back and let employers revoke their pay agreement.”

Bosses are refusing to honour the second year of a two-year pay deal and have reneged on a 1.3 percent rise. 

The result of a strike ballot of RMT/OilC union members, also working under Cota, was set to be announced as Socialist Worker went to press.

Workers are furious that bosses are pleading poverty while they continue to pump large profits. 

Drop 

“The 1.3 percent required to settle this dispute is a mere drop in the ocean for companies like Sodexho,” said Boland. 

Just two of the six firms, outsourcing giants Sodexho and Compass, have combined profits of over £1.5 billion.

But some bosses are getting worried—a caterers’ strike could potentially lead to shutdowns of rigs. 

And it’s just one of the disputes bubbling away offshore. Bosses have used the slump in oil prices as an excuse to attack workers’ terms and conditions.

They are imposing new work patterns that have already seen workers stuck offshore for 26 consecutive days—despite guarantees of a 21-day maximum. 

These attacks have led to significant deskilling. Many workers feel this is driving down standards to the point where it could lead to disaster.

Workers’ lives are being put at risk to line the pockets of the oil and gas barons—they are right to strike back.


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