United Kingdom: oil rigs on strike

Thousands of oil and gas workers operating on the British continental shelf are on strike to demand fairer wages and working conditions, highlighting the windfall profits made by these companies.
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In the UK, oil rigs are on strike by employees demanding better pay and working conditions, the Unite union announced Monday.

An unprecedented oil rig strike in the UK

“The gas companies and oil companies have been given carte blanche to take advantage of huge extraordinary profits in the North Sea”, denounced in a statement the general secretary of the union Unite, Sharon Graham. “1.400 offshore workers are now about to go on strike against those employers who … refuse to give them a fair share,” she added.

The strike was voted in several companies of the sector after separate consultations. Strikes will take place on various platforms between March 29 and June 7, for periods of 24, 48 and 72 hours, the union adds. The movement will affect the main oil and gas operators in the sector, including BP, Shell and TotalEnergies, according to Unite.

Results boosted by hydrocarbon prices

Indeed, the oil majors saw their results boosted last year by the price of hydrocarbons. The latter have surged, particularly in the wake of the war in Ukraine, with most recording record profits.

Solidarity shown by the NGO Greenpeace to the oil rig strikes

“Oil and gas workers have been abandoned to their fate, while their bosses and shareholders have made tens of billions of pounds,” denounced the NGO Greenpeace in a statement, saying it “stands in solidarity” with the movement.

This strike comes at a time of economic recovery. Indeed, inflationary pressures are weighing on wages and negotiations on the distribution of wealth are expected to be difficult in many sectors.

Oil and gas workers have been hit hard by the economic crisis of the Covid-19 pandemic. This has been reflected in lower demand and prices for oil and gas.

Important economic consequences

This strike will have important economic consequences, especially for the companies of the sector which will have to manage the absence of employees on the production platforms. It could also have an impact on energy prices for consumers, if operators fail to maintain production.

The British government has called on both parties to reach an agreement quickly, in order to limit the negative consequences on the economy and the workers concerned.

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