Socialist Worker

Wave of fury offshore as work stops on rigs

by Raymie Kiernan
Issue No. 2501

A new dawn on gas and oil rigs?

A new dawn on gas and oil rigs? (Pic: US Department of Energy)


Anger has spread among workers employed by Wood Group which is contracted to provide workers for energy giant Shell in the North Sea.

There was fury at the announcement of another round of job losses in Shell’s Brent oil field last Friday. For some it was the third time in 12 months.

Some workers downed tools on the Shearwater platform and flooded to join a union.

One said, “We have started the ball rolling. We’ve come together and joined the union, in this case Unite as the recognised majority union in the company.

“The news has got out to other Shell platforms and the Gannet, Brent Alpha and Brent Bravo have now gone down the same route.”

Meetings have been held to demand bosses reverse the latest cuts and raise the threat of further industrial action.

Bosses have used the downturn in oil prices as cover to shed more than 75,000 jobs, impose longer shifts with less time off and threaten safety.

Serious incidents are becoming more frequent as bosses also cut back on basic maintenance work.

Despite official guarantees of a maximum 21 days offshore, some work close to a month.

In a letter to workers bosses told them that their terms and conditions were “unaligned with current and predicted market conditions”.

“As a consequence any supplementary payments and benefits,” the letter declared, were “to be removed with effect from June 18 2016.”

Rank and file activists have been frustrated by a lack of action from unions.

Harry, an offshore union activist said, “Workers have had enough. We’ve been kicked, punched and cut for the last time. The lads are in their third consultation in 12 months, with reductions in manpower and terms and conditions to the minimum requirement.

“Employers should take note. We are coming for you and we will shut your operation down and attack your reputation. The rest of the North Sea will follow suit eventually.”

Send messages of solidarity to furiejames@yahoo.co.uk

 


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