Pay deal brings end to North Sea strikes

Workers on the Alwyn (pictured), Elgin and Dunbar platforms are balloting on industrial action.
A series of planned strikes on the Elgin, Alwyn (pictured) and Dunbar platforms and the Shetland gas plant have been cancelled.

Unite workers on three North Sea platforms have accepted a pay deal, bringing an end to a protracted strike dispute.

Workers on Total’s Elgin, Alwyn and Dunbar platforms have accepted a 15% pay increase but will move to three weeks on, three weeks off (3/3) rotas for going offshore.

A series of 12-hour and 24-hour strikes have been carried out on the platforms since July over the dispute which centres on the 3/3 rotas, which Unite previously described as “hated”.

The new deal, which also includes “substantial” retention bonuses, means all future action on the rigs has been called off.

Total plans to move workers to the 3/3 rota in January next year.

61.9% of workers voted in favour of the new pay offer, in a 93% turnout.

Unite said it maintains “serious concerns” over the rotas, but Total said it is a “safe rota” which is commonly worked in the sector.

A Robert Gordon University (RGU) report published earlier this year claimed those on 3/3 rota are almost twice as likely to experience ill health in comparison to those on 2/2 shifts.

Total wanted to implement 3/3 across its North Sea business following the acquisition of Maersk Oil earlier in the year and said it is “necessary” to the operator’s long-term business in the UK.

Wullie Wallace, Unite regional industrial officer, said: “Unite members have accepted the latest offer by Total on the basis of securing a number of significant improvements from the previous offer.

“This has been a long and protracted dispute following months of negotiations but we have secured a significant victory with a 15 per cent base increase and a substantial bonus for the workforce.”

“Unite retains serious concerns over the 3/3 rota system, which we will monitor.”

A spokesman for  Total said it means a “bright future” in the UK North Sea, following news of its major Glendronach gas find west of Shetland earlier this week.

He said: “We’re pleased that our workforce has accepted the company’s offer and that this will bring industrial action offshore to an end.

“The 3/3 rota is necessary for the long-term future of our business in the UK.

“It is a safe rota that is commonly worked throughout the North Sea and the wider global oil and gas industry.  The new rota will preserve the long-term sustainability of our business in the North Sea, which remains one of the most expensive locations to operate in the world.  We aim to move to the 3/3 rota by Jan 2019.

“Total E&P UK has a bright future.  This week we announced discovery of the Glendronach reservoir, the completion of our major project Culzean is on track for next year and we also have an exciting exploration programme for the future. “