Unite Scotland as part of the Offshore Co-ordinating Group (OCG) has today (27 April) jointly launched a report titled “A crisis behind a crisis” highlighting the major issues facing the oil and gas sector due to Covid-19 and the low price of oil. The OCG involves Unite, GMB, RMT, Nautilus International, Balpa, and Prospect trade unions.
With the price of oil hovering just over $20 a barrel in conjunction with the global pandemic, the report estimates that upwards of 3,500 workers could be displaced by September 2020. This time last year the price of oil was over $70 a barrel. Most of the drilling sector workers have been told it will be 2022 before there is any upturn in activity. In addition, the subsea sector is seeing contracts ended and vessels being tied up.
The report while welcoming the UK government’s Job Retention Scheme highlights that it is a ‘short term solution’ and the ‘best way’ to invest taxpayers’ contributions is to directly invest in the sector. The report suggests that this could be achieved by government being ‘equity partners’ through providing low cost loans to operators, and for the UK government to pull licences from those operators who are not prepared to take part in such a scheme. The report further demands that companies working in the sector should support the Scottish government’s Fair Work agenda and commit to engaging with the appropriate trade unions for collective bargaining purposes.
Unite’s John Boland, vice chair of the OCG, said: ”Unite through the Offshore Coordinating Group is calling for an urgent summit meeting with Westminster ministers to address the unfolding crisis across the offshore energy sector. The OCG report ‘A crisis behind a crisis’ sets out the concerns of the trade unions in respect of the immediate impact on oil and gas activities. It also points to the effect this crisis will have on government objectives for the wider energy strategy and the economy.
“The trade unions are clear that the actions of the industry right now risk the government energy objectives and will severely damage the UK economy, and that cannot be allowed to happen. We are calling for an immediate intervention to halt the “carnage” which is occurring in terms of jobs and to ensure a Just Transition to a carbon neutral state can be achieved.”