Energy firms face ‘tsunami’ of industrial action, union warns

A union has warned that that major oil and gas firms in the UK face a “tsunami” of industrial unrest as workers make demands on jobs, pay and conditions.

According to Unite, around 1,400 offshore workers across five companies are planning to strike, which could bring platforms and offshore installations to a “standstill”.

The latest round of industrial action will hit BP, CNRI, EnQuest, Harbour, Ithaca, Shell and Total.

Fossil fuel extractors have enjoyed bumper profits over the last year as the war in Ukraine ramped up pressure on the oil and gas markets. In November, BP reported a massive rise in its global profits, leading to calls for the government to increase windfall taxes to soften the blow of high prices on UK households.

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “Oil and gas companies have been given free rein to enjoy massive windfall profits in the North Sea; drilling concessions are effectively licences to print money.

“1,400 offshore workers are now set to take strike action against these employers who are raking it but refusing to give them a fair share of the pie. This will create a tsunami of industrial unrest in the offshore sector. 

“Unite will support these members every step of the way in their fight for better jobs, pay and conditions.”

The prospective action includes electrical, production and mechanical technicians in addition to deck crew, scaffolders crane operators, pipefitters, platers, and riggers.

No dates have yet been confirmed for the proposed industrial action.

Unite has criticised the government over its “inaction” on taxing oil firms such as BP and Shell after they posted record profits.

John Boland, Unite industrial officer, added: “Unite has received unprecedented support in favour of industrial action in the UK Continental Shelf. It is the biggest mandate we have received in a generation in the offshore sector. There is no doubt that this is directly linked to oil and gas companies reaping record profits while the workforce gets scraps from the table.

“Unite’s members are angry at the corporate greed being shown by offshore operators and contractors. Now these major global companies are set to face the consequences as dozens of offshore platforms will be brought to a standstill in a matter of weeks.”

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