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Updated: Crunch talks scheduled as majority of workers vote for strike

North Sea jobs
Offshore workers arrive on their platform by helicopter

Trade union officials and employers will hold crunch talks over offshore workers’ pay this week in a bid to avert widespread strikes in the North Sea.

Unite said the “vast majority” of its members covered by the Offshore Contractors Association (OCA) agreement had voted for industrial action.

The legal thresholds were met at Aker Solutions, Altrad and Sparrows Offshore Services, but not at any other OCA member companies.

However, Unite regional officer Tommy Campbell said the outcome would still be enough to result in about 1,000 workers downing tools.

Unite and OCA employers will return to the negotiating table tomorrow to try to resolve the wage dispute.

Crew are holding out for a 4% increase in basic pay.

In July, Unite said its members had snubbed the offer of a 3.3% raise for the eight months to March 31, 2019.

The proposals also included a 2.5% pay increase for the 2019-20 financial year, but were turned down by 68% of those polled.

Mr Campbell said: “The industrial action ballot results indicate what we have been saying all along − that there is a significant undercurrent of discontent over pay.

“Workers have seen operators increase profits, and if profits are up, wages need to go up as well.

“But there is still time to have a negotiated settlement and we are working towards that.”

OCA chief executive Paul Atkinson said: “Our shared priority is to reach a fair and reasonable settlement.

“We arranged to get together for talks with union officials before any ballot results were known.

“I know that we all share a commitment to resolve this dispute as quickly as possible and that remains our absolute priority”.

Alix Thom, Oil and Gas UK’s workforce engagement and skills manager, said: “Our industry has worked hard to improve its competitiveness since the downturn and stability is an important factor in attracting much needed investment in the basin.

“Therefore we very much welcome the fact that talks will take place next week and support all parties in working towards an agreement.”

The result of the GMB trade union’s poll is expected on Monday.

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