The GMB trade union has signed a deal with a group of independent North Sea oil and gas operators which could see workers given a greater say over the future of offshore industrial relations.
The agreement will see the union and the offshore independents “make the case for better energy independence and prosperity” as the UK transitions to net zero.
According to the memorandum of understanding between the trade union and the Association of British Independent Exploration Companies (BRINDEX), both parties work together to better represent workers voices and employer concerns to engage policymakers.
The parties will also advocate for “pro-jobs policies and strengthening energy security” as well as developing proposals for the future of offshore industrial relations.
GMB said the offshore sector employs around 30,000 people directly and supports a further 180,000 jobs across the economy.
BRINDEX companies, including Ithaca Energy, Harbour Energy and NEO Energy, account for a majority of the production and investment across the UK continental shelf and hold nearly two-thirds of carbon capture licences, GMB said.
GMB Union wants ‘plans not bans’
The trade union’s general secretary Gary Smith said: “Answering the energy question is central to addressing the challenges of our time, and the changes we need to make must be done with workers and not to them.
“It should be clear that if the transition is going to succeed then workers’ voices must be at the heart of the plans and policies needed to meet the UK’s net zero obligations, and so too must be the concerns of the industries that support these livelihoods.
“When GMB said the country needed “plans and not bans” if we want better energy independence and prosperity, we meant it.
“This agreement is about recognising the importance of our offshore sector in that energy and industrial mix, now and in the future, and making the case for it.”
BRINDEX chairman Robin Allan said: “Now more than ever, the UK needs a strong and investable North Sea that ensures security of energy and good quality jobs.
“This agreement with the GMB Trade Union heralds a new era of cooperation that will help ensure the country does not squander its energy inheritance and can prosper through the energy transition, as the global market becomes increasingly competitive.”
The agreement comes amidst numerous industrial disputes involving offshore operators in the North Sea.
Approximately 85 members of the Unite union recently agreed an end to their dispute with Petrofac over ‘clawback’ entitlements.
Elsewhere, hundreds of Odfjell workers on Equinor and TAQA installations are currently being balloted on strike action in a dispute over working rotas and paid annual leave.