Unite Scotland has welcomed a Scottish parliament motion lodged by North East Labour MSP Lewis Macdonald drawing attention to the major challenges facing the oil and gas sector.

Last week the country's largest offshore trade union welcomed a motion by the Scottish Labour Leader, Richard Leonard MSP, highlighting the trade union’s Save Off-Shore jobs campaign. Unite has warned that tens of thousands of jobs are at risk with upwards of 3,500 workers immediately at risk through redundancies or furloughing by September 2020.

The campaign launch followed the Offshore Contractors Association's (OCA) intention to serve notice to dismantle a collective agreement covering the terms and conditions of around 7,000 offshore workers at the end of June. The agreement covers a peak of 10,000 workers during the summer shutdown.

North East Labour MSP Lewis Macdonald said: “I fully support Unite’s Save Off-Shore jobs campaign and their call for public investment in the industry which is of huge importance to the wider Scottish economy. The challenges currently facing the oil and gas industry are immense. There is an immediate threat to the industry due to the collapse in demand brought on by the pandemic. But we also need a plan to protect jobs in the medium to long-term. This is why I have called on the Scottish government to re-establish the Energy Jobs Taskforce. We need a permanent forum for joint working among energy companies, trade unions and government agencies to protect existing jobs, support an energy transition and promote future growth.”

Unite Scottish secretary, Pat Rafferty, added: ”Unite welcomes Lewis Macdonald’s parliamentary motion drawing attention to the challenges facing the oil and gas sector. Scotland’s economy faces a long period of getting back to some form of normality after the Covid-19 pandemic subsides, but the North East and the islands will be one of the areas hardest hit. It’s vital that specific measures are brought forward to stabilise the sector and to support those areas in greatest need. We hope that this motion further focuses the minds of all parliamentarians on the need for implementing a plan which saves offshore jobs.”


Notes to editors:

The motion S5M-21724 by Lewis Macdonald MSP states: "That the Parliament believes that low oil prices and Covid-19 pose an existential threat to the North Sea oil and gas industry; notes the Offshore Co-ordinating Group (OCG) of trade unions’ estimate that 3,500 jobs in the supply chain are at immediate risk, with over 1,000 redundancy notices in the drilling sector alone; believes that furlough schemes are an uneven and temporary measure for offshore workers that will not solve deeper, structural problems in the sector, while recognising that they can assist workers who would otherwise face redundancy in the short term; notes the employers’ estimate that 30,000 industry jobs could be lost by autumn 2021; believes that offshore oil and gas supported over 101,000 jobs across the supply chain and £16.2 billion GVA to Scotland’s economy in 2018; calls on oil and gas operators to show leadership by not making dividend payments to shareholders in the midst of the current crisis; welcomes the formation of the Pandemic Steering Group, which includes employers, regulators and OCG unions; believes that a just transition to net-zero carbon is impossible for Scotland’s offshore workers if domestic oil and gas reserves are shut down before 2030; notes that the oil and gas reserves under the North Sea are publicly owned, and calls on the Scottish government to continue working with the OCG trade unions to demand measures from industry and the UK government that protect Scottish jobs and skills, production, investment, decommissioning and tax revenue from this strategically vital industry."

  • Unite Scotland is the country’s biggest and most diverse trade union with around 150,000 members. The union is led in Scotland by Pat Rafferty.