A North Sea oil worker has claimed staff are working on a “ticking time-bomb” as a dispute over changes to pay and conditions rumbles on.
More than 400 workers across eight of Shell’s platforms are set to stage the first in a series of strikes next week after RMT and Unite union members voted in favour of industrial action.
Workers have spoken to Energy Voice anonymously about their concerns over changes to their pay as well as morale offshore, which they said is the “lowest it has ever been”.
One worker, who has worked for Wood Group for a decade, said the pressures of job consultations, changes to equal time rotas and negotiations of pay had all been catalysts for strike action.
He said: “I have worked offshore for 10 years on the same Shell asset. I think the strike is happening now because the boys working offshore have had enough. We’re working on a ticking time-bomb and we’re working in a very dangerous environment.
“There’s been a lot of unrest and now they’re trying to offer us terms and conditions which are quite barbaric and phoning us at home when they’re not supposed to.
“I got a phone call at 8:30pm the other night telling me I really needed to look at my contract and get it signed and sent away.”
It’s understood some of the changes in dispute between employees and Wood Group are to salary structure which includes “inclusive payments”.
There were payments for overtime, nightshift, Christmas and New Year paid regardless of what was actually worked by staff member.
The new terms and conditions mean workers will be paid a base salary while additional elements of overtime and other holiday payments will be paid as staff work them.
The worker said his current pay deal could see a reduction in salary by as much as £20,000.
He said: “My current pay deal has been £68,000 and now they’ve come back to us with a figure of £53,000 of which £5,500 of that is for holiday so my basic payment is £48,0000.
“It’s £20,000 less than my previously salary – they’re having a laugh. The pay cut we’re being expected to take is so severe.
“They’re cutting our sickness benefits, holidays. It’s the worst morale I have ever come across in my life. It’s horrific, the boys are just totally deflated.
“I do a lot of safety work offshore and I genuinely believe that it is a disaster waiting to happen because the boys’ focus is gone.
“I have always really enjoyed my job but it’s getting to the point now where I hate it. As well as changes to our conditions and pay, we’ve also been going through a relentless cycle of job
“With the changes to the rota to equal time we are working an extra five weeks a year with no change to pay.
“The reason boys are finally striking is because our hand has been forced. I have a family to think about and it’s got to the point where the amount we’re being expected to lose – it’s too much money.
“If we don’t do this now, it’s going to affect every single individual in the North Sea and have a massive impact.
“I would rather be unemployed than take this pay cut.”
The first strike action will take place on Tuesday, July 26th with unions warning there will be further stoppages as the summer goes on unless the dispute with Wood Group is resolved.
A Wood Group spokeswoman said: “Our employees’ safety and welfare is our priority, and although we are extremely disappointed that they have chosen to take industrial action, we respect their
right to do so.
“We continue to engage proactively and openly with our employees and the unions with a focus on reaching a resolution. Safeguarding these jobs in the North Sea now and in the future has always been, and remains our priority.”