By Simon Basketter
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North Sea workers set for huge strikes

Oil and gas supplies are set to be hit by fresh strikes. But it's kick into a new gear now, and show the bosses workers are determined to win
Issue 2857
North Sea oil rig

Oil drilling platform in the North Sea (Picture: Chumlee10/Flickr)

The wage revolt in the North Sea is set to escalate this week. Around 1,650 UK offshore workers are due to begin two new rounds of 48-hour strikes.

The dispute over jobs, pay and conditions is becoming drawn out and bitter. Workers are fighting for pay to keep up with inflation and a real improvement to the amount of time spent onshore.

The walkout will hit multibillion oil and gas operators including Apache, BP, Harbour Energy, Enquest, Ithaca, Repsol, Shell and TAQA. It follows previous rounds of strike action in April and May.

Workers in the Unite union across five companies are now set to participate in strike starting on Thursday this week and ending on Saturday. They plan to strike against for the same days next week.

The action includes electrical, production and mechanical technicians in addition to deck crew, scaffolders, crane operators, pipefitters, platers, and riggers. And it spans those working for Bilfinger, Stork Technical Services, and Sparrows Offshore Services.

Last week Unite announced that around 600 Bilfinger contractors on Ithaca, CNRI and TAQA assets rejected new pay offers. These workers are the latest to join the ongoing dispute along with 200 Bilfinger contractors working on BP and Repsol assets.

Around 650 Stork offshore members along with 200 offshore workers employed by Sparrows are also fighting. Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said, “An army of 1,650 offshore workers are taking the fight to multibillion oil and gas corporations.

“The latest rounds of strike action in June will see the biggest group of offshore workers to date taking strike action.”

The army has been there from the start, it is the generals in the various union offices that have been slow. The battle on the rigs has been going on for over a year now and started with unofficial rank and file action.

In that time BP and Shell, for instance, recorded “historic profits” of a combined £11.7 billion in the first quarter of 2023. It will take hard-hitting action that spreads to get the bosses to back down.

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