Scotland business

Unions announce 48-hour strike in Wood Group dispute

oil rig strike Image copyright RMT
Image caption Hundreds of workers took part in the first strike on Tuesday

Workers on seven Shell installations in the North Sea are to stage a second strike next week.

The 48-hour stoppage, which follows a 24-hour strike on Tuesday, will begin at 06:30 on Thursday 4 August.

Members of the Unite and RMT union are in dispute with their employer Wood Group over pay and conditions.

Wood Group said it was "hugely disappointed" that "significant movements" made to reach resolution had "not been acknowledged by the unions".

Wood Group has denied claims it is imposing cuts of up to 30% in payments.

The 24-hour strike on Tuesday was the first industrial action of its kind in the North Sea in nearly 30 years.

The industrial action, which affects the Shearwater, Gannet, Nelson, Curlew, Brent Alpha, Brent Bravo and Brent Charlie platforms, has also included an overtime ban and a series of shorter stoppages.

Production on the installations involved, all owned by Shell, has so far not been affected.

Image copyright RMT
Image caption The striking offshore workers claim they will be forced to work longer hours for less pay

In February, Wood Group announced it was cutting rates paid to about a third of its UK contractor workforce.

It blamed the "continuing cost and efficiency challenges affecting the UK North Sea oil and gas sector".

Workers are also disgruntled that a two-week working cycle has been changed to a three-week cycle. leaving many away from their families for a longer time.

'Enough is enough'

Unite regional officer John Boland said: "Industrial action is always a last resort and throughout this dispute the trade unions have sought to find a resolution in direct talks with Wood Group and at the conciliation service, Acas.

"However, the solid actions this week and the support that the workers received is a clear demonstration of the strength of feeling and their resolve to resist these attacks on pay and allowances.

"The workforce is clearly of the view that enough is enough.

"Wood Group needs to drop the cuts and get back round the table with us if it genuinely wants to avoid further industrial action."

'Reach a resolution'

Dave Stewart, chief executive officer for Wood Group's eastern region business unit, said: "We are hugely disappointed that the significant movements we have made to reach a resolution have clearly not been acknowledged by the unions.

"I must stress, none of our employees are being offered terms and conditions below the Offshore Partnership Agreement, agreed by the unions only this year; nor will they be.

"The majority of our employees will still be paid significantly above these terms and conditions.

"Safeguarding these jobs in the North Sea now and in the future against the backdrop of an extremely challenging economic climate, remains our firm commitment.

"Wood Group's focus does not change. We remain committed to continuing to engage openly with our employees and the unions to reach a resolution."

The Offshore Contractors Association (OCA) has urged both sides to return to the negotiating table.

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