Breaking: Unite and Bilfinger are asking North Sea workers to stop strikes

Breaking: Unite and Bilfinger are asking North Sea workers to stop strikes

Workers on strikes across the North Sea have been asked to resign because Bilfinger UK has joined the collective bargaining agreement today.

Controversially, the supplier has long been missing from the Energy Services Agreement (ESA), which already sets a minimum wage and conditions for around 5,000 workers.

Bilfinger has now agreed after the strikes that workers have downing tools at facilities throughout the sector. A total of 16 assets were reportedly affected by Thursday morning.

Unite, Bilfinger and Offshore Energies UK (OEUK) have now released statements asking employees to return to work.

The next step is for Bilfinger, its employee representatives committee and Unite to negotiate wages through the ESA framework.

North Sea vendors are taking steps in the hopes of raising wages by £ 7 an hour.

When ESA was announced last year, it included a rate adjustment mechanism that automatically calculates wage changes using a formula based on average inflation and oil and gas prices.

At this stage, it is not clear whether the workers will accept Unite and Bilfinger at their request.

One employee, who said he represented the group, suggested that Bilfinger had “applied” to join ESA, but had not yet officially done so – but Unite refused.

OEUK, Bilfinger and Unite

Irene Bruce, Energy Services Agreement Manager at Offshore Energies UK, said: “The signatories to the Energy Services Agreement welcome Bilfinger UK as signatories to the agreement.

“ESA is a collective agreement between 15 employing companies and three trade unions, which sets out the minimum conditions for the offshore workforce across the employing companies.

“We ask all employees to comply with the requirement of their employer and unions to return to work and, if necessary, to use appropriate procedures to continue discussions.

© Supplied by TotalEnergies
TotalEnergies’ Elgin asset is one of those affected.

Bilfinger claimed to continue a strong dialogue with the unions while remaining outside the ESA, but has now changed his mind.

A spokesman for Bilfinger UK said: “We have always been in line with the market to ensure that we attract the best talent in the industries we operate.

“In recent years, we have been continuously monitoring the development of the energy services agreement, negotiating directly with trade unions and clients. After evaluating recent market changes and discussing with our clients and employees, it is clear that the issues raised require a consistent response throughout our industry.

“It is now in the best interest of our people, our customers, our business and the wider sector for Bilfinger UK to join ESA and we will work with the unions and our established committee of employee representatives to make these changes as we move forward. “

Wild strikes were sparked on Tuesday evening by Bilfinger UK staff at Elgin installations operated by TotalEnergies, and several others followed.

By Thursday morning, staff said 16 platforms were involved, including Clair of BP, Glen Lyon and ETAP, and Judy and Britannia of Harbor Energy.

A Unite spokesman said: “Bilfinger UK and Unite have reached an agreement and understanding on the current situation affecting a number of offshore installations in the North Sea, where workers have been in dispute with their employer.

“Unite is pleased to confirm that Bilfinger UK has now become a co-signer of the Energy Services Agreement (ESA), which both sides recognize as a source of frustration for the workforce on various offshore platforms.

“Bilfinger UK and Unite are now demanding that all workers return to normal working practices by having the two sides enter into talks through the ESA framework to discuss issues of common interest that have led to the current industrial labor unrest.”

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