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Total-Workers’ Union Talks On North Sea Oil Strikes Collapse

Talks between Total and the Unite union in a dispute over pay and shifts that has already seen five strikes over the past month, broke down on Thursday night, the workers’ union said on Friday, noting that strikes scheduled for September and October would go ahead.

Since July, workers at three oil and gas platforms operated by Total in the North Sea—Alwyn, Elgin, and Dunbar—have held five strikes in a dispute that arose after Total wanted to place workers at the platforms on a three-week rotation system instead of a two-week one.

The fields hit by the strikes account for some 10 percent of the UK’s gas production. Crude oil production at Alwyn, Elgin, and Dunbar pumps up to 50,000 bpd to the Forties and Brent Blend crude streams—the key components of the Dated Brent benchmark. The strikes have not yet seriously disrupted Forties loadings, although some loadings delays have been seen.

At a meeting last week, Unite representatives “made a series of counter proposals to Total for consideration. The company will now consider these proposals and both parties will re-convene next Thursday (23 August) for further discussions,” the union said.

However, Thursday’s talks broke down, Total also confirmed today, via a spokesman, who said that company has now decided “to move to individual consultation in order to implement the new rota pattern.”

Related: Is Renewable Energy As Clean As We Think?

“The new rota involves working seven extra days offshore each year,” the BBC quoted Total’s spokesman as saying.

“Despite offers of a 15% pay increase, strikes have gone ahead and our offer to bring in Acas for mediation has been rejected,” he added.

“For Total, moving to a 3/3 rota will safeguard jobs and investment in the North Sea,” the company spokesman noted.

“Unite will be consulting our members in the coming days regarding next steps and will issue a statement in due course,” the Scotland chapter of the Unite union said on Twitter today.

The union has scheduled “prospective industrial action” of 12-hour stoppages in the next two months, on September 3 and 17, and on October 1, 15, and 29.

By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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