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Offshore unions Unite, GMB and RMT warn against plans to de-recognise them

OFFSHORE oil and gas firms are tearing up an industry-wide agreement on issues including pay, health and safety and working conditions, trade unions warned today.

Unite, GMB and maritime union RMT say the decision will effectively derecognise them as representing offshore workers.

The Offshore Contractors Association (OCA) intends to terminate the Offshore Contractors’ Partnership Agreement on June 30.

The unions say operators such as BP are hiring outside contractors that are not part of the collective agreement.

In a joint statement, the unions said: “The trade unions are prepared to work with any and all industry stakeholders to build a new model which will provide protection to workers across the sector.

“The trade unions want to avoid the potential for a race to the bottom on terms and conditions and the inevitable impact that would have on health and safety.

“The trade unions have emphasised the importance of working with the wider industry to avoid the mistakes made in the past with fragmented contractual structures.

“We equally see the importance of closer working relationships with industry as the climate-crisis debate continues. We await the response of industry.”

GMB national organiser Dominic Pritchard said: “We will be discussing the legality of these contractual changes in terms of Tupe [transfer of employment regulations], as we would suggest the collective agreement should remain in place with a transfer.”

Unite regional officer John Boland said: “The break-up of long-established bargaining arrangements and the awarding of contracts to organisations without collective agreements is a backward step.

“The impact on our members will be concerns around insecurity and uncertainty, and this will inevitably affect the morale of the workforce.”

RMT regional organiser Jake Molloy said: “It strikes me that many of the industry forums we participate in are either pointless or completely disengaged with the reality of what is happening on the ground.” He accused the companies of trying reimpose the working conditions of 40 years ago.

An OCA spokesman said: “The Offshore Contractors’ Partnership Agreement remains in place. We have started a conversation about a broader adoption of the agreement.”

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