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Unite's Offshore Union Prepares for Possible Strike

north sea oil platforms
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Published Aug 24, 2022 8:00 PM by The Maritime Executive

Unite, the UK industrial union that represents dockers and offshore workers, is set to ballot offshore drilling and contract maintenance workers on the question of whether to go on strike. 

The ballot includes 300 workers who are covered by the UK Drilling Contractors Association, about half of the total number. The UKDCA bargaining association includes major contractors like Transocean and Odfjell, among others. 

The union membership recently turned down an offer for a five percent pay increase as insufficient, citing the record high rate of inflation in the UK. With surging energy costs, the UK's rate of inflation is projected to hit 18 percent by January, and year-on-year wage growth is running as high as eight percent in some shoreside industries. Unite's docker division is leading a headline-grabbing strike at the Port of Felixstowe, where its negotiators are seeking a raise in the range of 10 percent. 

Like shipping firms, offshore oil and gas companies are posting excellent profits this year, and Unite suggested that its offshore workers should receive a bigger share of the returns. Strike balloting opened on Monday and will extend through the end of September. 

“Inflation stands at a forty year high and it’s expected to rise further with energy bills having risen by 54 percent. Drilling companies have major problems in retaining and re-employing experienced drill crew yet they want to pay our members a pittance. Unite always remains open to meaningful dialogue and we urge the UKDCA to get back round the table before the dispute escalates to strike action," said Unite industrial officer Vic Fraser in a statement.