The TUC has backed a motion calling for a concerted campaign to resist “commercial pressures” that offshore unions say could erode safety standards, cut jobs and training.
The North Sea jobs crisis was highlighted by the British Airline Pilots’ Association, BALPA, at the TUC congress today.
Jobs have been lost in the past year across the industry including in the helicopter sector. In one company nearly 40% of helicopter pilot jobs in Aberdeen and Shetland are under threat and likely to be lost.
The motion called on the TUC to support unions resisting unacceptable changes to working hours, rest and leave entitlement. BALPA along with Nautilus, the RMT and other offshore unions urged the TUC to press the UK Government to adopt measures to protect UK Skills and experience.
Head of Industrial Relations at BALPA, John Moore said: “BALPA has witnessed first-hand the devastating impact of the current crisis on our members’ jobs, terms and conditions and careers.
“Our members accept that some of these changes are necessary. However, they oppose the hard-nosed manner in which management is implementing change – with inadequate severance packages, unacceptable selection criteria for redundancy and no proper plan to maintain the North Sea’s high skills base.
“With the oil and gas producers exploiting the crisis and encouraging a crazy “race to the bottom” competition amongst suppliers, the whole process looks and feels more like a fire sale than an intelligent and managed response to a genuine economic problem. Along with Nautilus, the RMT and other offshore unions, we will continue to call on both the Scottish and Westminster governments to start knocking heads together.
“We also share the concerns of other offshore unions over the number one issue – safety. Pilots are already reporting that their ability to sleep and concentrate at work is being affected by the threat hanging over them and their families. As one of our members put it: ‘Do we really want pilots to be worried how their training costs and mortgage will be paid on a dark and stormy night in the North Sea?’”
Helicopter operators have robustly denied they are compromising safety in the North Sea. CHC said safety was at the core of its operations regardless outside circumstance. Bristows said it was also focused on safety above all.