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Updated: Offshore union set for Aberdeen protests against unfair conditions

A trade union will take to the streets of Aberdeen today to protest against “employment barriers” which undermine UK seafarers and offshore workers.

RMT is calling for the enforcement of the national minimum wage (NMW) on commercial vessels working in the North Sea.

Union bosses also want to see more jobs and training for workers.

RMT reacted angrily last month to an admission by the UK Chamber of Shipping that the UK Government’s new guidance on fair pay for seafarers would not improve conditions or pay for those working in UK waters.

The union will start by demonstrating outside the constituency office of Ross Thomson, Conservative MP for Aberdeen South, before moving onto the Granite-City headquarters of Oil and Gas UK.

RMT general secretary Mick Cash said: “RMT members, branches and officials are campaigning hard for more jobs and training for seafarers and offshore workers in the UK.

“Our demonstrations in Aberdeen demand a response from the local MP, Ross Thomson to the avoidance of the NMW which Aberdeen-based companies are engaging in through their crewing policies on offshore standby and supply vessels.

“Domestic seafarers cannot and should not have to compete with pay below the legal minimum in offshore supply, offshore renewables and decommissioning.

“Instead of phony guidance, the Tory Government must apply and enforce UK NMW pay rates for seafarers on all domestic and North Sea energy routes, in line with the RMT stated and re-stated in the Legal Working Group on Seafarers and the NMW.”

RMT national secretary Steve Todd said: “These actions will further the vital aims of the SOS 2020 campaign and RMT’s Offshore Strategy.

“We demand that the local Tory MP stop waxing lyrical about tax cuts for oil and gas companies and start addressing the loss of jobs and skills in Aberdeen from the undermining of employment rights in the North Sea.

“RMT members are also taking that message to the Aberdeen office of the industry lobby group, Oil and Gas UK which routinely defends pay and employment practices that would be illegal on land and does nothing to promote trade union rights in the North Sea.

“Maximising Economic Recovery, decommissioning and offshore energy must mean jobs for UK offshore workers in every discipline.”

Alix Thom, Oil & Gas UK’s workforce engagement and skills manager, said “Whilst we have not been approached directly, Oil & Gas UK is aware of these plans.

“We have not, and would not, defend any practices that were not compliant with UK employment law, and we continue to work regularly with our members and the unions, including RMT, on employment matters through our work forums.”

Mr Thomson said: “I am always happy to meet to with anyone to discuss issues that affect my constituency.

“There are clearly large numbers of people employed in the oil and gas industry in Aberdeen South, and I have always been vocal in my support for the sector.

“I would be interested to hear the concerns that the RMT Union have on this issue, but I have not been contacted by anyone either locally or nationally.

“It is disappointing, however, that the RMT Union have not been in touch with me and have chosen to protest outside my office instead.

“I am travelling to London this morning so will not have the opportunity to go out and engage with them. Had they made an appointment or notified my office, I would be more than happy to do so.”

 

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