Unite Scotland has today (30 May) welcomed a Scottish parliament motion lodged by Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard MSP, highlighting the trade union’s Save Off-Shore jobs campaign.

Several weeks ago, the country’s largest offshore trade union launched a campaign to protect oil and gas sector jobs amid the global slump in oil demand and the low price of oil per barrel during the Covid-19 pandemic. The trade union 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 (OCA) serving notice to dismantle a collective agreement covering the terms and conditions of around 7,000 offshore workers. The agreement covers a peak of 10,000 workers during the summer shutdown.

The motion S5M-21779 titled ‘Importance of the Oil and Gas Industry’ by Richard Leonard MSP states: "That the parliament welcomes the campaign by Unite Scotland to protect offshore jobs in Scotland; recognises the importance of the offshore oil and gas industry to the Scottish and UK economy; considers that the reduction in demand for oil due to the Covid-19 pandemic threatens tens of thousands of jobs in the oil and gas sector; including jobs in central Scotland; recognises the need for ongoing public investment to provide support in return for a public stakeholding; acknowledges calls for a reaffirmation from the Scottish and UK governments and from Oil and Gas UK to the “Roadmap to 2035, A blueprint for net-zero”; regrets what it sees as the attempt by the Offshore Contractors Association to dismantle a collective agreement for 7,000 workers, and supports the central involvement of trades unions both now and in the introduction of new technology and automation."

Richard Leonard MSP, Scottish Labour leader, said: "The reduction in demand for oil due to the Covid-19 pandemic threatens tens of thousands of jobs in Scotland's energy sector, from the offshore platforms to energy companies onshore in the north-east, to supply chain jobs in the central belt. There can be no just transition towards net-zero emissions if jobs are not secured in Scotland now, in both production and de-commissioning, and training urgently provided to ensure jobs and skills are transferrable.

"The attempt by the Offshore Contractors Association to dismantle a collective agreement for 7,000 workers is deeply regrettable. It is vital that trades unions are at the heart of decisions taken both now and in the introduction of new technology and automation."

Unite Scottish secretary Pat Rafferty added: ”Unite greatly appreciates the support from Scottish Labour for our Save Off-Shore jobs campaign amid the crisis currently facing the oil and gas sector. The motion lodged by Richard Leonard MSP in the Scottish parliament is a significant step forward in highlighting the need for all parliamentarians to support the campaign of protecting offshore jobs, while ensuring there is a properly managed transition towards a carbon neutral environment. Achieving these tasks must be done in concert with one another.

"All MSPs should support the motion irrespective of party because we can’t leave tens of thousands of workers direct and indirect in the oil and gas supply chain to be left on the scrapheap as the misery of the 1980s showed us.”

ENDS

Notes to editors:

  • 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