Striking North Sea employees, who work indirectly for Total, say they are in “good spirits” and remain “determined to see the dispute through to the end”, according to Unite union representative John Boland.
He said the union was prepared to escalate the strike, causing deeper disruption as Unite added two more 24-hour strikes to its schedule.
French oil major Total said it had carried out a full risk assessment and decided production could safely continue despite the first in a series of 24-hour strikes. As subcontractors, the personnel are considered less critical to operations than Total staff.
Boland has accused employers Aker Solutions and Petrofac of taking the “brutal and scandalous” step of launching a consultation to “terminate and re-engage” staff on new contracts.
Both oilfield services providers said they “entered into consultation” with staff over the new contracts, with altered rota arrangements and “enhanced” financial packages.
The dispute by contract workers follows strikes last year by Total workers over the change to so-called 3:3 work rotas, extending the shifts workers spend offshore to three weeks. That action was eventually ended, partly by improvements in pay.
Aker and Petrofac both said they were committed to bringing the talks to a close safely and fairly.
Unite has scheduled multiple strikes at the Elgin-Franklin, Alwyn and Dunbar offshore rigs and at the major Shetland gas terminal, which processes gas and condensate from fields to the west of the islands such as Laggan-Tormore.
Boland described the behaviour of Aker and Petrofac as “shameful” and called on them to return to the negotiating table.
Aker and Petrofac had cut short the consultation and were only giving employees until the end of this week to sign the revised contracts, the union representative said.
Boland said: “The actions by Aker and Petrofac, at the behest of Total, have been shameful through the issuing of redundancy notices and trying to force through changes to our members’ rotas from 2:3 [weeks off:on] to the hated 3:3 or 3:4.
“Industrial action by Unite’s offshore members should serve as a reminder that we will not be intimated and will not shirk from defending our members.
“There was an overwhelming mandate for this action by the membership which should have brought Aker and Petrofac back to the negotiating table.”
Shetland North Sea oil staff complain about longer shifts offshore. Picture credit: Wikimedia