300 offshore construction workers balloted on strike action

Feb. 10, 2023
A number of operators will be hit by any successful ballot for industrial action including EnQuest, Repsol, Shell and Total, affecting more than 30 offshore installations in the UK Continental Shelf.

Offshore staff

ABERDEEN, UK — Unite the Union has confirmed (as of Feb. 10) that about 300 Stork construction members will be balloted on strike action on more than 30 offshore installations in the UK Continental Shelf. 

The latest offshore dispute is centered on working rotas and Stork rates of pay failing to keep pace with the broader cost of living, which stands at 13.4% (RPI). Unite has demanded that the contentious "three on/three off" rotas are abolished.

The ballot runs for four weeks from Feb. 17 to March 17.

Unite recently held a consultative ballot of its Stork membership, which revealed support for strike action standing at 96% on a 94% ballot return.

A number of operators will be hit by any successful ballot for industrial action including EnQuest, Repsol, Shell and Total.

Unite predicts that strike action on the offshore installations will lead to a serious backlog in maintenance work potentially leading to installation shutdowns if any are safety critical, which would result in a loss of production.

The offshore installations and workplaces potentially impacted by any strike action include the Anasuria FPSO, Armada, Beryl Alpha, Beryl Bravo, Bleo Holm, Blue Catcher, Brent Charlie, Bruce, Buzzard, Claymore, Clyde, Cygnus Alpha, Elgin, Forties Alpha, Forties Bravo, Forties Charlie, Forties Delta, Gannet, Golden Eagle, Heather, Lomond, Magnus, Mariner, Montrose, Nelson, North Everest, Rough, Scott, Shearwater, Tartan Alpha, Triton FPSO, Western Isles and Norfolk House (Dyce, Aberdeen).

Stork Technical Services UK Ltd. recorded a profit of £2.5 million ($3 million) in 2021 in its last full accounts. 

Sharon Graham, Unite general secretary, Sharon Graham, said, “Unite’s members have been backed into a corner by Stork to either swallow a real terms pay cut or fight back. Our members understandably believe that the only way Stork will come back to the negotiating table is through the real threat of strike action. This would hit over 30 offshore installations and potentially lead to shutdowns. We will support our members all the way in their fight for better jobs, pay and conditions in the offshore sector.”

The latest offshore dispute comes at a time when record profits have been announced by oil and gas operators. 

Vic Fraser, Unite industrial officer, added, “Throughout 2022 Unite worked hard with Stork to get an improvement on the base rates of pay but the company was unwilling to meet a fair settlement. No one wants to go on strike, but it is clear to our members that offshore operators, who are the real paymasters in the sector, are not listening to the current industrial unrest despite lodging record profits.

“There is already a skills shortage in the offshore sector demonstrated by significant maintenance backlogs. This is before the main offshore maintenance work even starts for 2023. The industry talks about a just transition to net zero, but unless there are decent terms and conditions in the offshore sector, there won’t be a workforce left to transition.”