16 January 2015
RMT Press Office
Offshore union RMT, along with sister unions and the STUC, will meet with Oil and Gas UK this morning in Aberdeen over the on-going threat to jobs and the long-term security of the UK’s energy supplies.
RMT will be setting out three core points which it believes form a solid basis for weathering the current storm:
• The sector is in chaos as companies rush to slash costs in the face of a dramatic fall in oil and gas prices since the summer. Rather than engage in dialogue with Government and unions on a range of solutions that preserve investment, production and exploration activity in the North Sea, companies are preparing to shut down drilling activity, in some cases 2 years ahead of contract end, lay thousands of skilled workers off at the stroke of a pen and ‘cold stack’ installations. This will also have a knock on effect in the supply chain, particularly supply vessels, helicopter transport and stand-by vessels.
• RMT members working on production platforms have been told shift patterns would be altered from the current 2-on 3-off to equal time of 2:2 or 3:3. One of the HSE’s objectives for offshore shift systems is to ‘minimise tiredness and fatigue’ but equal time shifts combining with 12-14 hour working days is a clear escalation of risk in a hazardous industry.
• RMT believe that the industry is making offshore workers carry the economic can for the industry’s failure to plan for lean times such as these. A mix of the following options would be preferable to the ‘all or nothing’ approach taken by BP and threatened by too many other companies in the North Sea: qualification for advanced tax relief for job sharing or other worker friendly initiatives; flexible working; temporary lay-offs; increased training activity; secondment to HSE inspection initiatives ahead of the introduction of the EU Offshore Safety Regulation in July; onshore engineering development projects; incentivised drilling programmes; incentivised maintenance programmes; and clearing any backlogs in safety critical maintenance work.
RMT General Secretary Mick Cash said:
“RMT believes that these big, wealthy companies are forcing offshore workers to bear the brunt of what we see as a complete failure to plan for a downturn like the one we have been plunged into due to the slump in oil prices. Instead they have gone for a short term “slash and burn” approach that will have long term implications for the future of the entire industry and the security of the UK’s energy supplies.
“RMT, along with our sister unions, is meeting with Oil and Gas UK today where we will be pushing for a halt to the job cuts programme and an emergency package of measures to stave off the destruction of both jobs and infrastructure . The union is also continuing to lobby politicians for incentives to allow exploration, maintenance, safety and engineering development works to take place during this emergency period for the industry.”