Crunch talks will take place between unions and COTA (Caterers Offshore Trade Association) in a bid to prevent the first North Sea strike in more than a generation.
The body, which represents six catering companies working in the UKCS, has been in dispute with staff after it said it would not be honouring the second year of a pay deal worth around 1.3%.
The talks will be held next week.
Earlier this month 54.2% of Unite members voted for strike action while 62.7% voted for action short of a strike.
The RMT ballot will close later on today.
COTA has previously said it was forced to retract the second-year of the pay deal due to the tough economic climate brought on by current decline in oil price.
It was previously revealed exclusively by Energy Voice that up to 500 jobs were at risk across the COTA member companies.
Peter Bruce, chair of COTA and chief executive of member company Entier, said the body would do “all we can” to avoid strike action.
He said: “We have made it clear to both Unite and RMT that we are willing to discuss our position, the economic challenges we are facing and what we are doing to prevent further job losses. In
this climate, dialogue and cooperation are needed rather than industrial action.
“We believe that the majority of our workforce are acutely aware of the economic situation in which we now find ourselves and understand that a pay freeze is not only fair but is also vital in ensuring the stability of our industry. Turnout in Unite’s ballot was not high – only approximately 250 employees (8%) voted in favour of taking part in strike action out of a total workforce of over 3000.
“The statement by the unions that catering staff are less fairly rewarded than other offshore workers is simply untrue. All employees covered by our pay agreement are salaried and earn between £34,000 and £45,000 per annum.
“They have enjoyed year on year pay increases since 2000 with the exception of only one year when a pay freeze was implemented due to the economic climate.
“Our members are under increasing pressure to manage costs, and pay increases cannot continue as they have done in recent years, particularly with negative inflation in the UK.
“Our members are already consulting on in excess of 500 redundancies.
“We will do all we can to avoid strike action and will continue to work closely with the unions to find a solution. There can be no winners from strike action – it means a loss of earnings, a
threat to long term job security for employees and overall damage to investor confidence in the North Sea.
“We are fortunate to have so many well paid jobs in the North East and employers and employees need to work together to ensure we keep them for decades to come.”
The member companies of COTA are Entier, Sodexo, ESS, Aramark, FOSS & ESG and Trinity International Services.