Socialist Worker

Divers’ strike holds out for 50%

by John Connon
Issue No. 2026

About 900 divers and support workers have been on indefinite strike since last week, seeking a 50 percent pay rise.

The workers say their earnings have slipped over the past two decades as oil and gas companies rake in increasing profits.

Members of the RMT union voted against a new three year deal offering a 20 percent increase immediately, plus more from April next year.

As Socialist Worker went to press talks were being held at the Acas conciliation serve.

Union officials had recommended acceptance of the three year deal but at a meeting on Friday the divers reiterated their demand.

Over 100 North Sea divers and support workers attended the meeting and vowed to stand united in their fight for better pay and conditions. “We won’t return to work until our demands are met,” is the defiant message from striking divers.

The RMT said divers were carrying out probably the most dangerous job in the North Sea.

North Sea divers descend to depths of up to 130 feet in freezing water, carrying out installation and maintenance work on wells and pipelines.

Bob Crow, the RMT general secretary, said the divers were determined their demands would be met. He said the divers deserved a fair share of the massive profits they helped create. He told the workers that they have “101 percent RMT support”.

While experienced divers can earn up to £46,000 a year, they have to pay for their own training, which can cost £20,000 and they have a short work life, retiring at about 50.

Most planned North Sea field maintenance is done in the summer, but a prolonged strike could have a devastating impact on North Sea production with workers unavailable for essential maintenance.

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Sat 11 Nov 2006, 00:00 GMT
Issue No. 2026
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