Oil rigs line the coast near Inverness, Scotland. (Picture: joiseyshowaa)

A new report outlines how offshore fossil fuel workers want to be part of shaping energy production and their own jobs within it. It shows that the idea of narrowly-focused, individually-obsessed oil and gas workers is wrong. 

The report was compiled by Platform and Friends of the Earth Scotland to try and force the Scottish and British governments to take action. Unions, including Unite, RMT and PCS backed it. 

The report’s authors ­interviewed 34 offshore workers and surveyed another 1,000 over two years. It offers an insight into dangerous conditions, stagnating pay, and the impact of privatisation. 

One offshore worker, Julie said, “In the past, you had a job for life and once you were a deck crew you could work your way up. Now it’s all short term contracts with offshore companies that no longer need to worry about liabilities for the big owners and companies running them. They tender everything out to different private companies. There are 101 different types of companies providing services offshore.”

The authors devised ten demands, including renationalisation of the energy industry, greater investment in renewables and that workers be put at the centre of a move away from fossil fuels. Of the workers that were ­interviewed, 90 percent said they supported these demands. 

As well as detailing terrible conditions and lack of rights, the report reveals the changes workers want to see in the energy industry. One marine supervisor said, “Offshore wind is going the same way as oil and gas. It’s the same model. We are going down the same rabbit hole, and it has to be stopped. 

“It has to be at least part publicly owned.” In other interviews, workers said they would prefer to work in the renewable industry. And others argued for stronger union organisation amongst offshore workers.  

One worker, Alistair said, “If we want a workforce capable of self-defence in the emerging renewables’ industry then we need a trade union led by the rank and file. We need organisers within the rank and file. And that is hard work. When people try to achieve it, they will be singled out, intimidated. It isn’t easy, but it needs to be done.” 

Alistair is right to say that workers’ struggle ­offshore must be led from the bottom, especially when it comes to fighting for a real just transition.

It is essential that fossil fuel infrastructure is shut down as soon as possible. But some union leaders, especially in the Unite and GMB unions, have used the phrase “just transition” to argue to keep sites open to save members’ jobs. 

Unite union leaders sought talks with the then Scottish first minister Nicola Sturgeon to save the Grangemouth oil refinery in May of last year. While fighting for jobs, the  fight could have also allowed union leaders to make a strong case for a just transition. But that opportunity was missed. 

Those at the top of Unite have also backed more government investment in the dangerous nuclear power industry.

Workers should not be drawn into the same pessimism as union leaders, and fight for a socialist vision of a just transition. This would mean that every job is protected and transformed to preserve the environment. 

If the report shows ­anything, it reveals that workers don’t want their current jobs to stay as they are. They want the energy industry to change and are open to the idea of ­transitioning and retraining to work in renewables. But it will take more than reports and petitioning to get there. 

For the full report go to bit.ly/Transition0323

Original post


We’d love to keep you updated with the latest news 😎

We don’t spam!

Leave a Reply

We use cookies

Cookies help us deliver the best experience on our website. By using our website, you agree to the use of cookies.

Thank you for your Subscription

Subscribe to our Newsletter