UK Union: Tidewater-Gulfmark Merger Could Lead to Job Losses

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By The Maritime Executive 11-20-2018 10:55:31

The UK's National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT) has called on the British government to protect hundreds of North Sea crew positions that could potentially be eliminated by the merger of offshore supply operators Tidewater and Gulfmark. The Tidewater-Gulfmark merger was finalized on November 15, creating the largest fleet in the industry. It boosts Tidewater's total fleet size to about 250 vessels around the world (though the number will likely decline in line with the firm's scrapping program). 

The union alleges that Tidewater is refusing to discuss the future of Gulfmark’s UK registered fleet, and it says that up to 300 unlicensed jobs are on the line.

“Tidewater must meet us in Aberdeen for immediate discussion of our members’ jobs on the fleet of offshore supply vessels acquired as part of the Gulfmark takeover. We cannot have another damaging loss of UK ratings’ jobs," said RMT general secretary Mick Cash in a statement. "I fully expect the Shipping Minister, Nusrat Ghani MP . . . to step in to protect seafarers’ jobs in the North Sea, if necessary."

30 of the acquired Gulfmark vessels operate in the UKCS, supplying North Sea oil and gas rigs. According to a motion filed by Ian Mearns, a Labour Party MP representing Gateshead, these ships are the "last source of major employment for up to 300 UK seafarer ratings on collectively bargained rates of pay in the North Sea oil and gas industry." RMT estimates that about 1,000 UK seafarers have lost their jobs on North Sea OSVs since the oil price collapse of 2014, and over 160 offshore vessels are laid up around the region. 

 “As we head for the EU exit, non-EU companies in the North Sea need a strong reminder from trade unions and the government of the need to protect British seafarers’ jobs and trade union rights in the OSV sector," said Cash.