Striking rig workers head back to work

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A three-week-long strike by Norwegian offshore oil service workers ended on Tuesday, with the head of their union claiming victory. The strike had shut down 17 rigs on Norwegian oil fields.

Workers go on board one of Statoil's drilling rigs in the North Sea. One recruiter said only the big companies like Statoil are able to help workers get through immigration processes and settle in Norway. PHOTO: Statoil/Øyvind Hagen

Rig workers like these were heading back out to oil rigs after a strike by oil service employees ended on Tuesday. PHOTO: Statoil/Øyvind Hagen

It was a controversial strike, coming at a time when many oil industry workers have been losing their jobs. The union, Industri Energi, nonetheless pulled around 300 of its members off the jobs, claiming they hadn’t received a good enough pay deal compared to other oil workers.

“After three weeks on strike, Industri Energi prevailed in its demand to even out pay differences between oil service employees and other oil industy workers,” claimed Ommund Stokka of Industri Energi, which also has been in conflict with another labour organization, Safe, that it claims accepted a poorer deal last summer. Stokka claimed the settlement ending the strike “represents a formidable increase for workers within oil service.”

According to the union, its members can now earn up to NOK 199,000 more than Safe members.

Employers represented by the industry organization Norsk olje og gass confirmed the strike had ended and claimed a solution was found by “redistributing” funding set aside for salaries.

“We are naturally glad the strike is over,” Jan Hodneland, who led negotiations for Norsk olje og gass, stated in a press release. “Our mantra in the negotiations has been moderation and humility given the extremely demanding situation the industry and its many employees are in.”

The conflict had also put around 600 other workers in the oil service industry on furlough at companies including Sclumberger, Baker Hughes, Halliburton, Oceaneering and Oceaneering Asset Integrity.

newsinenglish.no/Nina Berglund