North Sea divers’ strike ‘100 per cent solid’
RMT: November 1 2006
MORE THAN 900 RMT diving personnel in the North Sea oil and gas industry have responded to the union’s instruction to take action on pay with complete determination and an absolutely rock-solid strike, the union said today.
Commenting on reports coming in overnight and this morning from officials and reps, RMT general secretary Bob Crow said that the overwhelming rejection of the employers' pay offer had galvanised members into united and determined action.
"Our North Sea members' action is 100 per cent solid this morning," Bob Crow said.
"Every vessel operated by the signatories to the agreement is either in port or heading for port, and there are no diving support vessels operational in the North Sea
"Members on vessels as far afield as Singapore, the Canaries and Egypt have also joined the strike, and members have also walked out of training courses in Norway.
"We have been assured of complete support by our Norwegian union colleagues, and have received welcome offers of solidarity from the International Transport Workers' Federation and its affiliates.
"The mood is one of complete determination, and we will be holding a mass meeting of members in Aberdeen on Friday further to co-ordinate our strike efforts and to update members on any developments.
"The employers should now be in no doubt that our members are determined to reverse the decades of pay erosion and to win an acceptable pay award, and we are ready to talk with them at any time," Bob Crow said.
Divers strike after deal rejected
BBC News: 1 November 2006
About 900 North Sea divers and support personnel have begun an indefinite strike after rejecting the latest pay offer from employers.
The union says divers are carrying out dangerous work
Members of the RMT union voted against the new three-year deal by 516 to 240 in a poll that closed at noon.
The offer, recommended by union bosses, promised a 20% increase immediately, plus another 5% from April next year.
There has been concern that any strike action would bring chaos to parts of the UK oil and gas sector.
The RMT said divers were carrying out probably the most dangerous job in the North Sea.
"Our members have now made it quite clear the offer on the table falls short of their aspirations" - Bob Crow, RMT union
They descend to depths of up to 130ft in freezing waters, carrying out installation and maintenance work on wells and pipelines.
The latest poll followed a ballot in September on an earlier pay deal.
The RMT said the walkout would continue for as long as it took for employers to come back with a better deal.
The union's general secretary Bob Crow said: "This result shows just how angry RMT diving personnel have become after 20 years of pay erosion.
"North Sea divers do a particularly difficult job in a hazardous industry, yet over two decades their earnings have slipped by 20% in the average pay tables, while the oil and gas companies have been raking in super-profits.
"Our members have now made it quite clear the offer on the table falls short of their aspirations and they will therefore be on strike from a minute after midnight."
A spokesman for the United Kingdom Offshore Operators Association (UKOOA) said: "We are disappointed that the divers have rejected the latest substantial pay offer despite their union's recommendation to accept it.
"We sincerely hope that the strike will have no effect on North Sea production, although the winter period is a quiet time for diving activity because of the seasonal nature of the work on account of the weather."