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Union boss cites Piper Alpha disaster in oil industry warning

Jake Molloy
Jake Molloy

The deterioration of workers’ rights and morale in the oil industry is following a similar pattern to the conditions that preceded the Piper Alpha disaster, an offshore union boss has warned.

Jake Molloy, regional organiser of the RMT offshore energy branch, told the STUC conference in Dundee that the industry cannot be allowed to “make the same mistakes” as the mid-1980s shortly before the Piper Alpha exploded, killing 167 workers.

The STUC backed a series of motions of calling for urgent government intervention to “alleviate the pressures on employers and jobs across the UK Continental Shelf, ensuring occupational health and safety standards and collective agreements are protected and strengthened, and industry impositions are ended”.

Conference noted “the backlog of safety critical maintenance work has grown significantly since summer 2014”.

Mr Molloy said: “Everything that we are seeing in the offshore sector today was played out in 1986 – everything.

“In just two short summers, in 1988, the Piper Alpha blew apart and took 167 men. We cannot and must not allow this industry to make the same mistakes again.

“Casualisation, long hours and a demoralised workforce living under constant threat of attacks to their terms and conditions and the ever-present threat of redundancy.

“It wasn’t the way to run an industry in 1986 and it took the deaths of 167 men to prove that.”

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