Wood Group Reaches Unions Agreement After Dispute

Oil services provider Wood Group has reached a provisional agreement with unions on a compromise deal following a labour dispute involving workers on Royal Dutch Shell platforms in the North Sea.

Over the summer, maintenance workers employed by Wood Group held a series of stoppages on Shell platforms, which was the first major strike by North Sea workers in nearly 30 years.

The dispute concerned conditions and pay, and highlighted the growing labour tensions in the UK’s offshore energy industry as firms look to save money in the face of protractedly low gas and oil prices.

Earlier in the week, Wood Group said that it had drawn up a “mutually agreeable proposal” with representatives of the unions that was “in the best interests of all parties.” The organisation added that the deal would be put to a ballot of members by the Unite and RMT unions next week.

The dispute has been closely monitored as a test of the industry’s ability to cut North Sea labour costs, along with the unions’ appetite to resist cuts.

A Unite spokesman said that the deal was “the best that can be achieved in the current circumstance,” while neither side would reveal details of the agreement.

Employees of Wood Group working on Shell platforms had faced a 3% pay cut on average under the initial proposals that prompted the dispute, while unions claimed that some workers would suffer a 30% fall in earnings when benefits are included.

In a statement, Wood Group said: “The new proposal recognises the skills, flexibility and capabilities of the incumbent offshore workforce, the challenges facing the industry and demonstrates collective leadership in shaping the future of the North Sea.”

Paul Goodfellow, head of UK upstream operations for Shell, said: “Shell is pleased with this proposal and looks forward to working with Wood Group, Unite and the RMT to ensure that the North Sea remains competitive.”


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BDC 305 Jun 2023