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Offshore workers vote backs strike action

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13 July 2016

Members of two unions at oil and gas company Wood Group have voted in favour of going on strike.

Unite and the RMT have been in dispute with the firm over what the trade unions have described as a “swingeing” proposed pay cut.

Unite’s ballot had a turnout of 86.6% and 99.1% voted for strike action, while 98.5% of the RMT’s turnout of 67% also backed taking the same action.

Wood Group said it was “extremely disappointed” by the results.

It said it has addressed every significant concern and a resolution to the dispute would safeguard jobs.

There are 327 workers involved and most work on North Sea platforms Shearwater, Gannet, Nelson, Curlew, Brent Delta, Brent Alpha, Brent Bravo and Brent Charlie.

Wood Group provides maintenance and construction services to the installations, having signed a new three-year contract extension with Shell earlier this year.

‘Efficiency challenges’

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”.

John Boland, Unite regional officer, said talks had failed to find “an acceptable deal” for the workforce in the pay dispute.

He said: “We now find ourselves forced down the route of industrial action and in the coming days the workforce will determine the timing and nature of that action.

“That said, we remain available for talks should the company wish to consider an alternative offer.

“However, any talks must respect the workers and especially with regards to exercising their democratic rights in a dispute situation.”

Jake Molloy, RMT regional organiser, said employees, who had gone through two rounds of redundancy and were working longer under increased workloads, now faced reductions in their salaries.

He added: “The workforce message is clear. Enough is enough and it’s little wonder we find ourselves in this situation.”

‘Extensive consultation’

Wood Group’s Dave Stewart said the company remained committed to reaching a resolution, which would meet a “mutual goal of safeguarding jobs”.

He said: “We are extremely disappointed with the outcome of the ballot.

“Throughout the extensive consultation with our offshore employees we have been fair and transparent, addressing every significant concern that our employees and the unions have expressed.”

Industry body Oil & Gas UK and Shell said they were disappointed by the outcome of the ballots.

Shell’s Paul Goodfellow said: “We hope that Wood Group’s employees and management can resolve their issues.

“Our priority is to ensure that the safety of our people and assets will not be compromised during any industrial action.”

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