Home » News/Views » Energy workers in struggle

Energy workers in struggle

11 February 2023

BP Clair platform. Photo Grahame C Anderson via Wikimedia (CC BY-SA 4.0)

Offshore oil workers are taking action on pay and rotas. Nearly one hundred Odfjell offshore drillers on two BP platforms, the Clair and Clair Ridge, have voted for strike action. Other workers in the energy sector, which is reporting high profits, are also pressing pay claims.

Odfjell refused to provide paid annual leave for periods when drillers are offshore, unlike other offshore workers who receive paid leave as part of their rotas. The company recorded profits of £2.64 million in 2021, up from £2.15 million in 2020.


Safety is also at the heart of this dispute. Vic Fraser, Unite industrial officer, said, "Only last week, without any consultation never mind agreement from their staff, Odfjell and BP made unilateral changes to the drillers crew.

“Changes would mean staff work 25 to 29 days in a row.”

Those changes would mean some offshore staff working anything from 25 to 29 offshore days in a row. It just beggars belief and our members are determined to fight for a better working environment.”

Unite members voted 96 per cent in favour of strike action, on a turnout of 73 per cent. They are starting with a series of 24-hour stoppages, escalating to all-out strike if necessary.


The Odfjell workers also voted for a total overtime ban, limiting the working day to twelve hours, not to provide cover during scheduled field breaks, and to withdraw goodwill for pre- and post-tour briefings at handovers between shifts.

At the same time, 300 Stork construction workers will be balloted on strike action at over thirty offshore installations on the UK Continental Shelf. Again, the dispute centres on rotas and pay.

Sharon Graham, Unite general secretary,  said, “Unite’s members have been backed into a corner by Stork to either swallow a real terms pay cut or fight back." Unite members are demanding an end to contentious three on/three off rotas. The installations involved include those run by EnQuest, Repsol, Shell and Total.


Meanwhile onshore, workers employed at Drax power station in Yorkshire, the largest in Britain, are preparing to take nine days of strike action in February and March, after rejecting an 8 per cent pay offer.

And energy workers employed by Drax Hydro Limited who operate power stations across Scotland are balloting over strike action, also rejecting an 8 per cent offer.