Unite Scotland has today (11 May) angrily reacted to the collapse of talks involving trade unions and those offshore oil contractors’ part of the Offshore Contractors Association (OCA). The union has stated that ‘all options are on the table’ to protect the existing industry wide agreement.

Unite, which is the largest offshore trade union, launched the ‘Keep the North Sea Safe – Cuts Cost Lives’ campaign in March this year in response to the OCA serving notice to dismantle a collective agreement covering the terms and conditions of around 7,000 workers. The agreement covers a peak of 10,000 workers during the summer shutdown. Eight major oil companies are part of the OCA companies including Aker Solutions, Altrad, Brand, Muilhlhan, Petrofac, Stork, Wood Group and Worley.

Following discussions today, Unite was informed that the association now intends to press ahead with ending the decades' old Offshore Contractors Partnership Agreement (OCPA) in June. The trade union also lambasted the OCA for ignoring a survey commissioned by Oil and Gas UK (OGUK), which showed its own members valued the current agreement but instead decided to terminate the contract based on cost grounds. The OCA now intends to press ahead with single specific agreements but when pressed by Unite those contractors refused to confirm that they would adhere to the current rates of pay and existing codes of practice set for the industry.

Pat Rafferty, Unite Scottish secretary, said: “The decision by the OCA to terminate the current industry wide agreement is a massive step backwards in the offshore sector. It will compromise safety, jobs, pay and lead to further casualisation. Unite will consult with our members, and we will use whatever action is required to maintain their terms and conditions. All options are on the table. We also asked for a delay on any decision to serve notice due to the Covid-19 crisis but the OCA directly refused this. It’s a shameful step by offshore contractors which will lead to greater instability and uncertainty in the sector at exactly the worse possible time.”


Notes to editors:

  • The OCA acts as a baseline for other companies operating in the North Sea. Unite estimates that up to 30,000 offshore workers are directly and indirectly affected by the terms of the agreement.
  • OGUK is the operators and supply chain association.
  • 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.