From British daily The Morning Star:
BP sets course for North Sea storm
Thursday 02 July 2009
by Paul Haste on the Isle of Man
North Sea oil-rig workers threatened a “summer of discontent” on Thursday to fight back against bosses demands for massive pay cuts.
Despite raking in huge profits on the back of record oil prices, executives at oil giant BP are set to tear up union agreements by scrapping bonuses, allowances and shift payments to slash the wages of its offshore contract workers by as much as 20 per cent from October.
Offshore Contractors’ Association (OCA) chief executive Bill Murray, whose member companies supply the oil firms with 20,000 specialist staff working in more than 70 oil and gas fields in the North Sea, argued that the industry “isn’t immune to the current economic downturn.”
Speaking on behalf of 70 contractors with a combined turnover of more than £3 billion, Mr Murray insisted that staff had to accept the cuts.
“Some 50 per cent of wage settlements involve pay freezes or pay cuts. All our members in the oil and gas sector are doing is trimming back on enhancements,” he claimed.
But RMT oil workers’ organiser Jake Molloy lost no time in hitting back against the bosses’ offensive to declare that rig workers were “absolutely furious and determined to fight.”
“The only question now is how,” he stated.
Tearing up industry agreements “marks the death knell of the OCA, which has traditionally negotiated terms and conditions for their own staff,” Mr Molloy added.
“You have now got the oil companies themselves dictating terms for workers at the contracting companies.”
Mr Molloy revealed that RMT was considering a legal challenge to BP for a breach of contract as its opening shot in what he suggested could be a “summer of discontent in the North Sea.”
Unite regional officer Willie Wallace confirmed that offshore workers had “never been so angry.”
Pointing to the massive £18 billion profits that BP hauled in last year – a huge 39 per cent increase over the previous year – Mr Wallace declared that oil bosses were “conveniently forgetting the record profits they made on the back of high oil prices.”
“But now that the oil price has fallen a little, they want to attack our members’ wages,” he added.
LACMA & BP’s Iraqi Oil Fields: here.
And, talking about Big Oil: [British Left Labour MP] McDonnell demands probe into reports that Shell helped fund MPs’ junket to Nigeria: here.