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Unions to ballot UK offshore workers over possible strike

20 March 2015

On March 19, 2015, UK trade unions Unite and GMB announced a ballot for their members working offshore in Britain's oil and gas industry to gauge the appetite for strike action over changes to shift patterns and other grievances. The two unions represent about 3,000 offshore workers, including engineers and scaffolders  in the Offshore Contractors Association.

John Kelley, a regional organiser for the GMB, said the consultative ballots would close on March 27, and the unions would then take a view on whether to proceed, depending on the response.

Kelley said one of the main grievances had been a move to a three weeks on, three weeks off shift pattern at some companies, as opposed to the more traditional two weeks on, two or three weeks.

Separately, the Rail Maritime & Transport union said it had endorsed a call from members to ballot for industrial action. It cited a range of issues including shift pattern changes, alterations to leave entitlements, reductions of up to 20% in staffing numbers, and disputes on sick pay, pensions and pay levels.

The RMT said the timing of any subsequent industrial action would be arranged to have the maximum effect on operations, and that it would look to work closely with the other offshore unions.

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