It’s taken 27 years to get to the point where offshore workers feel compelled to take industrial action and withdraw their labour, but more than that it has taken the belligerence and intransigence of an industry hell bent on making the workforce pay for the mismanagement of the sector!
The Wood Group workforce on Shell operations know they are already on borrowed time as decommissioning and redundancy looms large for a huge chunk of the workforce.
Add to that the fact they have seen many colleagues go through two rounds of pay offs already, that they have seen a rota system which delivered on work/life balance stripped from them and an additional 4 to 5 weeks of work imposed for no reward and you begin to get a feel for why they ‘might’ be a bit hacked off!
But then consider the prospect of up to 30% of your income being taken away whilst workload pressures increase, and even the most moderate of thinkers might say, have the employers thought this through?
At a recent oil and gas conference the Oil Industry Chaplain Gordon Craig reported how during his offshore visits he was finding morale at an all time low with many workers expressing the view “I’m nothing but a number”.
Never was that saying more in evidence than with this demoralised and disengaged workforce.
Yet even now it appears neither the employer or the operator Shell are prepared to reconsider the situation and consider more meaningful engagement to try and find the efficiencies they claim they need to survive.
In fact it appears the opposite is the case with Shell apparently engaging “scab” labour through various agencies to counter any action while Wood Group prepare to issue new contracts which will apparently be accompanied with an explanatory letter.
I think everyone knows what that means! This is escalating from a dispute to a complete breakdown in industrial relations which could yet cost Shell a great deal more than a few quid off the wage bill!