A North Sea union has condemned Wood over plans to cut sickness pay by more than 75% for its workers on CNOOC platforms.
Around 160 Wood employees on the Buzzard, Scott and Golden Eagle installations face a major reduction to their normal sickness pay if the scheme goes ahead as planned from January 1.
It is understood the proposals will see a reduction from around £1,100 per week to £195 for the first 14 days off ill, sparking “outcry” from the workforce.
Wood confirmed it has started a 30-day consultation with its employees on the CNOOC contract on a change to terms and conditions and sick pay provisions which would bring them “in line with equivalent employees across Wood in the UK”.
Unite said it has been contacted by workers who “cannot live on this level of sick pay” and that the union is prepared to ballot members on industrial action over the issue.
A Wood spokesman said it has “actively engaged” with trade unions and is working towards a “mutually acceptable conclusion”.
Unite regional officer John Boland said: “People are really concerned. They’re just not going to be able to pay their bills, they’re not going to be able to pay their mortgages, what are they expected to do?
“They shouldn’t have that type of stress on them at that time.
“If there is a problem with people abusing it then we say to them manage the situation. Manage it, deal with individuals but don’t just put a broad brush approach across everybody.”
An initial meeting took place between Wood, CNOOC and the unions last week with another due to take place tomorrow.
Unite argues that the measure will lead to people going to work while sick, “putting themselves and others at risk”.
Mr Boland said the unions will take action to prevent the measures from going ahead.
He added: “Sick pay is there as a safeguard for employees for when they are ill. If there is a problem with sickness absence then it is a management issue and they should be managing that.
“If they are determined to cut sick pay, we would have no option but to ballot the members if that’s what they wanted.”
Unite said the proposals have caused stress and “a lot of anger” among workers and called on CNOOC North Sea boss Ray Riddoch to intervene, having earlier this week spoken about the importance of the mental health of the workforce.
CNOOC said it is a business issue for Wood.
A Wood spokesman said: “On 1st November, Wood initiated a 30-day consultation with our employees working on the CNOOC contract regarding a change to terms and conditions related to sick pay provisions.
“The proposed change would bring terms and conditions in line with equivalent employees across Wood in the UK.
“Wood has actively engaged with the represented trade unions on this proposal and we look forward to a constructive dialogue with union and employee representatives as we seek to find a mutually acceptable conclusion.”