Fresh union dispute surfaces over North Sea rota changes

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.

A fresh dispute over rota changes has broken out between a workers’ union and North Sea service firms.

Unite claims French oil giant Total is “pressuring” Aker Solutions and Petrofac members to move from a two weeks on, three weeks off (2:3) rota to a three on, three off (3:3) rotation.

Unite also accused operator Total of attempting to change worker terms and conditions, such as the removal of “competency payments”.

Industrial action ballot papers went out to Petrofac workers on the North Alwyn and Dunbar platforms yesterday.

Aker Solutions members working on the Elgin platform were also balloted, alongside those working at the Shetland Gas Plant.

Total, which operate the assets, refused to comment last night.

Both firms confirmed they had been notified about the ballot, which would decide whether industrial action takes place.

Unite claimed the dispute could affect up to 250 members.

The ballot closes on February 22.

A spokeswoman for Aker Solutions said: “Aker Solutions has been notified by Unite the Union that they will hold a ballot for industrial action with our employees based at the Shetland Gas Plant and on the Elgin platform regarding a proposed change to rota patterns.

“We are committed to continuing our dialogue with our employees, the union and our customer to bring this to resolution as quickly as possible.”

Petrofac released a similar response confirming its employees on the Alwyn and Dunbar platforms will also be balloted.

Unite regional officer John Boland described the proposed change in circumstances as an effort to “sow divisions amongst trades with differing levels of percentage payments to each trade”.

He added: “Discussions are continuing with Petrofac and Aker, but we have been told that Total are unwilling to move on their position, and that Petrofac and Aker are resigned to this going to strike action.

“Unite call on Total to be responsible and assist Petrofac and Aker resolve this dispute.”

Crew on Total’s Alwyn, Dunbar and Elgin platforms voted to move to 3:3, in exchange for a 15% pay increase in 2018.

Shell and Apache have both announced plans to move workers back to a 2:3 system.

Repsol Sinopec Resources UK is conducting its own review of offshore schedules.

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