Strike spread to more oil platforms

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A strike by workers on several offshore oil platforms spread this week with no settlement in sight. More thn 3,000 workers have been pulled off the job, in a strike that’s now significantly cutting into oil and gas production.

The Statfjord C platform, owned by Archer and on charter to the former Statoil, was among those on the list of 28 offshore installations affected by the strike. PHOTO: Statoil/Øyvind Hagen

Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) reported that around 1,500 platform workers who aren’t a part of the conflict were temporarily laid off after unions representing those on strike pulled hundreds more off the job. That means that 28 offshore oil and gas installations are now being idled.

“This is astounding,” Jakob Korsgaard told NRK. He’s leading negotiations for platform owners and operators through the Norwegian Shipowners Association (Norsk Rederiforbund) and claims the strike that began last week is “completely unnecessary.”

The strike initially targeted nine platforms but that’s now affectng 28. Korsgaard noted how platforms can need to be shut down if they don’t have enough workers on board, for safety reasons.

When platforms are rendered inoperable, supply vessels and other branches of the industry are affected as well. Korsgaard bemoaned how the strike by members of oil industry workers’ union Safe was hitting just as the industry as a whole was recovering from the ill effects of the oil collapse in 2014.

“This is extremely unfortunate timing,” Korsgaard told NRK. “The industry has worked hard to make a comeback since 2014.” The rig and supply boat market was hit especially hard by the oil price collapse, with thousands of workers laid off and only recently finding jobs again.

Union officials and workers, however, contend that severe cost-cutting by oil majors like the former Statoil (now Equinor) have resulted in lower pay and reduced benefits in the entire industry. The main conflict in the strike that began last week is over pension terms.

One striking worker and union leader, Oddleiv Tønnessen, flatly rejected Korsgaard’s complaints, claiming that only now can workers make their own voices and complaints heard.

newsinenglish.no/Nina Berglund