Workers conclude latest strike on Total North Sea platforms

Talal Husseini 24 July 2018 (Last Updated July 24th, 2018 11:59)

Around 40 rig workers have concluded the first of five planned strikes on the Alwyn, Elgin and Dunbar platforms, which are part of Total North Sea oil and gas operations. It commenced on Monday with production halting for 24 hours, according to UK labour union Unite.

Workers conclude latest strike on Total North Sea platforms
Members of the UK trade union Unite have finished their first 24-hour strike on Monday, protesting against pay levels and the new rota system. Credit: Safe Caledonia.

Around 40 rig workers have concluded the first of five planned strikes on the Alwyn, Elgin and Dunbar platforms, which are part of Total North Sea oil and gas operations. It commenced on Monday with production halting for 24 hours, according to UK labour union Unite.

A Unite spokesperson said that the union and Total failed to agree on work shifts and pay, and no fresh talks are currently planned.

Two further 12-hour strikes will take place on 30 July and 13 August, while more 24-hour strikes are planned for 6 and 20 August.

Unite regional officer John Boland told Offshore Technology: “Unite members on the Alwyn, Dunbar and Elgin platforms operated by Total E&P took part in the first of a series of 24-hour and 12-hour strikes commencing 23 July. The dispute concerns the company’s wage review and its plans to force workers to increase their offshore working time to three weeks on three weeks off.

“The strike action stopped at 0600 this morning [Tuesday], but the overtime ban continues. It will take between 12 and 24 hours for full production to resume. At present, there are no planned talks.”

Gas traders said the strikes had curbed gas flows to shore, boosting the instant delivery wholesale gas price by 1.9% to 58.3 pence per therm.

A spokesperson for Total North Sea said that the strikes went ahead “despite the new proposals that were made by the company”.

She said: “What is at stake here is to ensure the long-term sustainability of our business in the North Sea, to enhance overall safety and remain the most efficient in our operations.

“However, we’re pleased to be able to continue discussions with staff at the Shetland Gas Plant and remain committed to further consultation and open dialogue with offshore staff.”

Total wants to extend the employee rosters from a two-week rotation to three in order to bring it in line with the rota system at its newly acquire Maersk fields.

Combined, the three fields account for around 10% of the UK’s gas output, and produce around 45,000 to 50,000 barrels per day.

It is not just Total North Sea operations that are experiencing industrial action recently.

Unite members at Aker Solutions have announced their decision to strike at Equinor’s non-producing Mariner platform, with GMB members at Mariner also voting in favour of industrial action. It is reported that Aker Solutions had offered an enhancement worth up to £8,000 per employee.

Last week, 1,600 Norwegian rig workers ended industrial action at the Knarr oil and gas field operated by Shell.