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North Sea Offshore Workers Back Strike Action Over Drastic Pay Cuts

Oil and gas workers at Wood Group have voted overwhelmingly in support of strike action over what they described as a “swingeing” 30-percent pay cut the group had proposed on eight Shell platforms in the North Sea.

The RMT and Unite union members at Wood Group voted 98.5 percent and 99.1 percent respectively in favor of “industrial action in the form of strike and action short of strike”, the two unions said in a joint statement on Wednesday.

Wood Group said it was "extremely disappointed" by the results, the BBC reported.

The two unions and Wood Group have been at loggerheads over proposed pay cuts. Announcing the ballot in June, the Unite union said that the dispute originated from the oil and gas services company’s proposal to cut pay by up to 22 percent, or to 30 percent, including other allowances. The vote was open between June 15 and July 13, and any industrial action would start on July 20, Unite said back in June.

Related: Offshore’s Next Big Headache: Breakable Bolts

Back in February, the oil and gas services group said that it planned to cut rates paid to about one-third of its UK-based company contractors.

Opposition has been growing since then, and the offshore workers employed by the Wood Group on Shell’s North Sea platforms had been insisting the group revised terms and conditions on the proposed pay cuts.

Talks, however, definitely broke down on Friday.

Commenting on Wednesday’s ballot outcome, Unite Regional Officer John Boland said that the workers would discuss the nature and timing of industrial action in the coming days. Boland, however, added that the union was open to sit down to talks with the company, if it were willing to consider another offer for the workers.

By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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