Offshore workers vote to strike over pay row

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Unite strike threat

Offshore workers have voted in favour of strike action in their pay dispute with North Sea employers.

The GMB union last night said its members had “overwhelmingly” backed the escalation.

It said that between 83% and 100% of votes cast at six different employers were in favour and that the proportion of eligible workers saying yes met the legal threshold.

A ballot by the Unite union also produced a majority for a walkout but employers said it had not met the legal requirement that 50% of eligible members vote in favour.

Unite and GMB members have been embroiled in a dispute with the Offshore Contractors Association for months, arguing that staff should get a wage increase, along with improved sick pay and paid travel time.

The OCA represents nine companies including Amec Foster Wheeler, Petrofac and Wood Group PSN.

Union chiefs and representatives of the employers have met numerous times to try to resolve the situation.

GMB national officer Ross Murdoch said: “GMB has long been saying that our members have got to the stage where enough is enough and this ballot result clearly sends a message to the OCA and their clients that they are sick to the back teeth of being down the pecking order in terms of the industry’s priorities.

“Our members have now decided that unless the OCA comes back to the table with an improved offer they are prepared to take industrial action.

“GMB members have played their part over the past few years seeing thousands of job losses and pay freezes and quite rightly want the offshore industry to recognise the sacrifices they have made.

“We have written to our members and to the employers today setting out the ballot results in full and will now consult on the next steps.”

In March, 81% of Unite members voted to reject the latest deal put forward by the OCA.

Paul Atkinson, CEO of the OCA, said: “We are disappointed that members of the GMB have voted in favour of industrial action.

“We have also been informed by Unite that less than 50% of those eligible to vote supported industrial action.

“We plan to meet with union officials as soon as possible in order to resume negotiations.

“Our offer, which guarantees that basic and associated pay elements will increase by a minimum of 2% for each of the next two years, remains on the table.”

They are sick to the back teeth of being down the pecking order

NOT GOOD ENOUGH: The OCA has offered a deal which guarantees a basic pay increase of 2%

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