RMT union warns of ‘catastrophic’ job losses due to coronavirus

20 March 2020 (Last Updated March 23rd, 2020 15:46)

UK-based offshore energy workers' union RMT has called on the government to help prevent catastrophic job losses and skills shortages.

RMT union warns of ‘catastrophic’ job losses due to coronavirus
RMT calls for urgent action to protect Britain’s oil and gas supply chain from collapse during the coronavirus outbreak and oil price crash. Credit: RMT.

UK-based offshore energy workers’ union RMT is urging the British government to help the offshore industry through the coronavirus pandemic. It says it needs help to prevent “catastrophic” job losses and skills shortages in UK offshore.

The union wants the government to make a new offshore oil and gas industrial strategy, working with offshore unions and industry.

It says this would preserve the offshore oil and gas industry and jobs in the sector, especially in Scotland. The industry has taken a hit due to the coronavirus Covid-19 outbreak and the collapse in the price of oil.

According to RMT, the UK may need to increase its reliance on imported fossil fuels as  the coronavirus outbreak continues.

RMT General Secretary Mick Cash said: “We are hearing that exploration projects on the UK continental shelf are being delayed or cancelled as oil gas prices plummet to unsustainable levels. This is threatening to take some operators to the wall, along with the contractor and supply chain workers maintaining their assets.

“Government and industry’s ‘Vision 2035’ strategy now looks in serious jeopardy and we agree that immediate Government intervention, co-ordinated with trade unions, industry and the Scottish Government, is essential in order to protect jobs and skills across the supply chain, as well as the investment needed to preserve the North Sea’s importance to the national energy mix.

“Norway’s state energy company Equinor has set up a department specifically to respond to COVID-19 with the overriding aim of preserving oil and gas production and the jobs it supports in the North Sea today.”

Coronavirus global impact

Meanwhile, the Covid-19 death toll has crossed 10,000 worldwide. A total stands at more than 224,000 confirmed cases and 84,000 recoveries as of the end of 19 March.

Italy has rapidly become the most affected country in Europe, now considered as the epicentre of Covid-19 outbreak. The death toll in the country has increased by 427 in the last 24 hours to 3,405, exceeding the total fatalities reported in China until now.