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March 11, 2019

Strikes begin on Total’s North Sea offshore platforms

Strikes led by British and Irish trade union Unite began on Monday, with industrial action starting on three Total-owned platforms over rota disputes.

By Umar Ali

Strikes led by British and Irish trade union Unite began on Monday, with workers taking 24 hours of industrial action on three Total-owned offshore platforms over rota disputes.

The dispute concerns Aker Solutions and Petrofac, operators of the Elgin-Franklin, North Alwyn and Dunbar platforms, proposing to change shift rotations and make existing terms and conditions less favourable. These North Sea platforms collectively employ over 200 workers.

Unite announced the strike action on 22 February, with workers voting ‘overwhelmingly’ for industrial action.

Unite regional industrial officer John Boland said: “Aker and Petrofac, at Total’s bidding, are trying to force our members’ rotas being changed from 2:3 to the hated 3:3 or 3:4. Shamefully, workers are also being frozen out of the existing competency scheme that rewarded members for being more skilled and was a route to progression.”

“During this dispute, Aker and Petrofac have tried to split our members by offering uplifts to some but not all. However, Unite members have resolutely resisted these shameful attempts. The resounding votes across all three platforms demonstrates clearly that our members not only want to stay on their existing rota, but if they have to change they want fair compensation, and to retain the existing competency scheme.”

A spokesperson for Total told Energy Voice: “Safety is our foremost concern and we have made sure there is no increased risk as a result of this industrial action.

“Given the nature of the roles carried out by those taking part in the industrial action we can also confirm that production will continue at the affected installations.”

Similar strike action took place in July 2018, with workers on the Alwyn, Elgin and Dunbar platforms striking until September over pay and work shift disputes.

The current strike action is expected to last five weeks. Unite has stated it is open to further negotiations.

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