Belfast Telegraph

Wood Group oil workers back strike action in pay dispute

Oil workers have overwhelmingly voted to take strike action in a dispute over pay.

The trade unions Unite and the RMT balloted members working for the Wood Group on eight of Shell's North Sea oil and gas platforms.

A total of 99.1% of Unite members and 98.5% of RMT members voted in favour of strike action, the unions said.

Dave Stewart, of the Wood Group, said the firm is "extremely disappointed" with the result of the ballot, and will "continue to engage fully in discussions with our employees and the unions".

Following the vote, talks will be held between the unions and their members to determine when industrial action will take place, and what form it will take.

John Boland, Unite regional officer said: "Despite the best efforts of the full-time officials and workforce shop stewards to broker a deal with the company, talks have failed to find an acceptable deal for the workforce. We now find ourselves forced down the route of industrial action and in the coming days the workforce will determine the timing and nature of that action.

"That said, we remain available for talks should the company wish to consider an alternative offer. However, any talks must respect the workers and especially with regards to exercising their democratic rights in a dispute situation."

RMT regional organiser Jake Molloy said the "battered and bruised workforce" had already gone through redundancies, an increased workload and the introduction of a rota that leaves them working three weeks on followed by three weeks off.

He said they were "being told they have to accept all of this with a reduction in salary of anything from 10 to 30%", but added: "The workforce message is clear - enough is enough and it's little wonder we find ourselves in this situation."

Mr Stewart, the CEO for Wood Group's eastern region business unit, said: "Throughout the extensive consultation with our offshore employees we have been fair and transparent, addressing every significant concern that our employees and the unions have expressed.

"We have met with the unions 11 times, and also with shop stewards and communication representatives. In addition, senior management have visited all those platforms involved to engage directly with the workforce.

"Safeguarding long-term employment opportunities for our employees on these assets is our priority and proposals regarding changes to terms and conditions have been reviewed with this as our firm focus. The unions have acknowledged this is a challenging time for the industry.

He added: "At no point did the terms and conditions proposed include a sweeping 30% pay cut across those employees impacted. Around a third of those involved will experience no reduction to their base salary. The average reduction to base salary experienced by those employees involved in this consultation will be 3%."