Offshore Workers Vote For Strike Action Over Pay

Published at 07:04PM - 21/10/15

Offshore workers based in the UK have voted in favour of strike action after unions balloted their members over a pay dispute.

Offshore Pay Dispute

The long running dispute, between UK offshore catering staff and their employers, centres around the refusal by the catering contractors to honour a previously agreed pay deal.

Offshore catering contractors including Aramark, Compass and Sodexo, had singed a pay deal with employees through their industrial association ‘COTA’ – the Catering Offshore Trade Association.

The pay deal was to last for two years and guaranteed offshore employees a 1.3% wage increase in the second year.

However since the original deal was signed, COTA and its members have said that owing to industrial factors, a pay freeze needed to be brought in from the 1st September 2015.

COTA’s last statement made on the 16th September said “We didn’t take the decision to freeze pay lightly – high operating costs and the dramatic slump in the oil price have meant it is absolutely necessary to keep our business competitive and secure the future of the North Sea industry for us all.”

Workers Ballot

Two unions representing offshore oil and gas workers, Unite and RMT, have since held ballots on strike action for its members.

Unite’s ballot closed today, with results showing a 54.2% majority of members are in favour of taking strike action.  Further the ballot showed that 62.7% of members balloted were in favour of taking action short of a strike.

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 worth billions revoke their pay agreement”

“We are disappointed the employers have chosen not to resolve this matter amicably and the door remains open for discussion, whether it’s face to face or through the auspices of Acas, if they want to avoid serious disruption to catering and ancillary services across the North Sea but we are rapidly running out of time.”

The RMT union is expected to release results of their own ballot shortly after it closes on Tuesday 27th October.

North Sea Strike

The outcome could see the first strike in the British offshore oil and gas sector for a generation.  Strike by catering staff would likely see the down-manning of offshore oil and gas platforms and as well as offshore drilling rigs, due to the UK HSE regulations.