Strike looms as RMT North Sea divers reject pay offer by massive margin
RMT: September 8 2006
STRIKE ACTION by more than 800 diving personnel employed in the North Sea oil and gas industries came a step closer today as RMT announced the massive rejection of a pay offer that failed to address two decades of pay erosion.
Announcing that the offer had been rejected by an enormous 640 votes to 2, the union today gave notice that only a dramatically improved pay offer would avert strike action by divers and diving support staff from November 1.
North Sea divers have seen their earnings slip by nearly 20 per cent behind UK average earnings since 1984. RMT's claim is for a 50 per cent increase, and the offer rejected is of just 15 per cent over three years. RMT membership has increased dramatically since the ballot was announced.
"The massive turnout and the all-but unanimous vote show exactly how angry our members are at an offer that simply fails even to dent the chronic pay slippage they have had to endure for more than 20 years," RMT general secretary Bob Crow said today.
"We hope that the employers will take note of this tremendous ballot result and table an offer that redresses the real-terms pay cuts and sub-inflation deals our members have been expected to swallow for so long.
"No-one can argue that the industry cannot afford to pay decent rates to people who do some of the most difficult and dangerous work in a particularly difficult and dangerous industry," Bob Crow said.
"Our members have spoken with a single voice and now it is the turn of the employers to respond with a serious offer," said RMT national secretary Steve Todd.
"Our members are utterly united in their determination to win a decent pay deal and if it comes to a fight we are ready, and our sister unions in Europe and beyond have assured us that they will give any assitance we may need.
"We are still ready to talk, but it is now crystal clear that we need to have something more serious to talk about," Steve Todd said.
Divers 'determined' over pay deal
BBC News: 12 September 2006
Divers who work in the North Sea oil and gas industry have said they are "angry and determined" to get a better pay deal. Oil and gas production could be hit if the strike goes ahead
They have been meeting union leaders in Aberdeen following a strike ballot in favour of industrial action, after their 50% pay rise demand was rejected.
RMT union chief Stan Hershaw said it was still possible to avoid a strike.
He said: "It is a question of the employers being reasonable and also positive at the same time."
"They are now saying it is time to put the matter right" - Stan Hershaw, RMT union
Mr Hershaw said that the meeting of members was "constructive".
"But you could sense the anger and militancy that was coming out of the meeting," he added.
"They are very determined this time around.
"They have had two decades of terrible pay and now the industry is booming, the contract books are full and they are now saying it is time to put the matter right."
The International Marine Contractors Association, which represents the divers' employers, had offered a 15% increase over three years.
The RMT union balloted divers and support workers on the offer and they rejected it by 640 votes to two.
Union chiefs warned that only a "dramatically improved" deal would stop the strike going ahead on 1 November.
The RMT said divers were carrying out probably the most dangerous job in the North Sea.
They go below the cold waters to carry out work on wells and pipelines.
If the action proceeds then oil and gas production could be severely disrupted.
The UK Offshore Operators Association has also said it wants to avoid industrial action.