Oil & Gas

North Sea union boss predicts ‘national strike’ across oil and gas industry

A leading north-east trade union figure is forecasting a glut of offshore strikes across the whole oil and gas sector.

Jake Molloy of the RMT has flagged several problems that are entrenching “frustration and anger” amongst North Sea workers.

Among them are the “hated” three-off, three-on shift pattern, as well as a failure for wages to return to pre-downturn levels, despite companies posting bumper profits.

As a result, Mr Molloy says it is “ever more likely” that the sector will be hit by a “national strike”, with the number of industrial ballots growing “virtually every day”.

© Supplied by DC Thomson/ Scott Ba
RMT regional organiser Jake Molloy.

Swathes of strikes impacting most major industries have taken place in the UK in recent months, with the main grievance being a lack of wage growth.

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The North Sea hasn’t been exempt, and offshore workers from various facets of the industry have downed tools, or threatened to, on a number of occasions.

There has even wildcat action, meaning it is unsanctioned by unions, on two separate occasion.

Inflation is currently driving up the cost-of-living in the UK, and many are finding their take home pay stretched thin.

In an interview with ‘The Oil Machine’, a film about the world’s “economic, historical and emotional entanglement” with hydrocarbons, Mr Molloy was asked whether the oil and gas sector will mirror rail workers recent decision to strike.

He said: “This is a work force which has been under tremendous pressure to reduce and cut costs. They’ve seen their work-life balance adjusted quite significantly with the implementation of three week working offshore, which is absolutely hated, universally.

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“They’ve had pay cuts, they’ve had terms and conditions eroded; all of that as a result of the downturn when oil prices crashed in late 2014.

“But it has continued through, and now when we see these unbelievable, record profits that haven’t been seen for decades, the oil companies are reluctant to give any of it back. That’s causing a great deal of frustration and anger.

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“Virtually every day now we’re seeing another group of workers move towards a grievance process, and subsequently a process for strike action.

“It is something that we’d all want to avoid but the intransigence of the oil companies means it looks ever more likely we’re looking at a national strike across all of the sector.”

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