300 UK Offshore Workers Vote to Go On Strike

Equinor's Mariner platform is among the assets which might be affected, according to Unite (Equinor file image)

Published Oct 5, 2022 10:56 PM by The Maritime Executive

UK union Unite confirmed Wednesday that 300 of its members in the UK North Sea offshore sector have voted to go out on strike. The action will affect rigs operated by Archer, Maersk, Transocean and Odfjell, as well as BP's Clair and Clair Ridge platforms and Equinor's Mariner platform.

The strike will be intermittent: it will involve a series of 48-hour stoppages every other week for eight weeks. The action will start October 20-21 and a second, similar series of stoppages are scheduled for November and December. Actions short of a strike are also on the table, like an overtime ban or a refusal to conduct goodwill handovers for oncoming crew.

Unite warns that the action could escalate to a full strike action if a wage agreement can't be reached by the end of this timeline.

In August, union membership turned down an offer for a five percent pay increase, citing the record high rate of inflation in the UK. With surging energy costs, UK inflation is running at about 10 percent and is expected to continue to rise, according to the Bank of England. This crimps real take-home pay for workers.

Offshore oil and gas companies are posting excellent profits this year, and Unite has suggested that its offshore workers should receive a bigger share of the returns. 

“Unite’s offshore drillers and contractors are ready to take their employers head on. The offer on the table is a substantial real terms pay cut. It comes from the very same companies who are driving the cost of living crisis. The oil and gas industry is swimming in record operator profits," said Unite general secretary Sharon Graham in a statement.

Unite industrial officer Vic Fraser said that the union's membership is on the rise in the offshore sector and that it has an "emphatic" mandate from its members.

Unite is also busy along the waterfront. Its docker division has recently led headline-grabbing strikes at the ports of Liverpool and Felixstowe, where the union is demanding a pay raise equal to or greater than the rate of inflation.