A major new campaign has been launched to protect jobs as the global slump in oil demand and the price of a barrel during the Covid-19 pandemic threatens tens of thousands of jobs in the offshore sector.
Unite Scotland, as part of the Offshore Co-ordinating Group (OCG), launched a report last month titled “A crisis behind a crisis” highlighting that upwards of 3,500 workers are immediately at risk through redundancies or furloughing by September 2020.
The report was followed by warnings from the sector’s trade body, Oil and Gas UK (OGUK), that up to 30,000 jobs could be lost over the next 18 months.
The Save Off-Shore jobs (SOS) campaign will involve the distribution of thousands of electronic postcards to union members so they can make direct contact with MPs and MSPs to gain support for several key measures.
They include calls for direct state investment in the sector via low cost loans to operators, which would make the Government “equity partners” in any future operations.
The union is also calling upon OGUK and the Government to at once honour and speed-up their “Roadmap to 2035” commitment to maintain North Sea employment at 135,000 jobs.
Finally, the campaign calls for proper collective bargaining with unions now and when transitioning to greener industries – including “a meaningful trade union voice in relation to the introduction of new technology and automation.
The campaign comes on the back of 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.
Eight major oil companies are part of the OCA companies, including Aker Solutions, Altrad, Brand, Muilhlhan, Petrofac, Stork, Wood Group and Worley.
Unite Scottish Secretary, Pat Rafferty, said: “Unite has launched the Save Off-Shore jobs campaign amid the crisis currently facing the oil and gas sector.
“Nobody should be under any illusions that a potential catastrophe is facing tens of thousands of workers over the coming 18 months unless swift government action occurs to stabilise the sector.
“As the largest trade union representing offshore workers our campaign will be driven by thousands of Unite members who will directly take our demands to members of parliament both at Holyrood and Westminster through electronic postcards.
“All politicians will be judged on how they can support the livelihood of our members as action is required now.”
Economists warned last week that the north-east could be one of the regions hardest hit by the coronavirus crisis.
Holyrood’s finance committee was told job losses in the North Sea oil and gas sector were poised to have a “significant impact” on the economy of the area.
And MSPs heard fears the industry was facing the “further crisis” just as it was “getting back on its feet”.