The strike is necessary to level out differences in the oil industry

fredag 7. oktober 2016

Local union leaders in the oil services are clear on what the oil strike is all about. – We strike for the oil service employees to be equally worthy as others in the oil industry, says union leaders who are on strike.

Atle Bertelsen (Baker Hughes) and Kjell Vestly (Oceaneering).

Local union leaders in Schlumberger, Halliburton, Baker Hughes and Oceaneering emphasizes that it was not desirable, but absolutely necessary to go on strike against the Norwegian Oil and Gas Association on the Oil Service Agreement.

-It is necessary to strike because it is just as stressful for me to work the night shift as for personnel under the Operator-, Drilling- and Catering Agreements, but employers will not offer us the same night shift allowance, says local union leader Kjell Vestly in Oceaneering.

He refers to the fact that personnel under the Operator-, Drilling- and Catering Agreements, received NOK 1.50 extra on the night shift allowance in this year’s wage settlements, while personnel under the Oil Service Agreement were offered 1 NOK only.

-If we had accepted NOK 0.50 less by now we had moved in a direction of modifying our claims. It would eventually lead to even greater differences between oil workers, he says.

Further, Vestly also states that employers also attack the plans for rotation for when workers should be at disposal for the employers, despite the fact that employees in the Oil Service already are the most flexible workers throughout the industry.

Genuine negotiations is a must

Aase Fintland (Schlumberger).

Leader of the local union in Schlumberger, Aase Fintland, believes that Industri Energi had to demonstrate that the union should have real rights for collective bargaining under the Oil Service Agreement.

– We have not performed any genuine negotiations at this settlement. The Norwegian Oil and Gas Association presented us with an ultimate offer and showed no willingness to negotiate, says Fintland.

She points out that it is a critical development if a small federation like SAFE will negotiate in advance of the major union Industri Energi, having ten times more members under the Oil Service Agreement, and by doing so SAFE are binding the result.

Knut Nesland (Halliburton).

Knut Nesland, leader of the local union at Halliburton, says that the gap in wages compared to other groups in the oil industry had become unacceptably large if Industri Energi had accepted the employer’s offer.

-If we are not doing anything with the wage scale, our skilled workers will soon  drop NOK 100,000 behind skilled workers under the Operator-, Drilling- and Catering Agreements. We cannot accept dictated wage setting from employers, he says.

Nesland emphasize moreover that the working arrangements, rotations, under the Oil Service Agreement are bad enough as they are and believe that it is a matter of principle that workers in oil service should have the same night shift allowance as the other groups.

No other choice but strike

Atle Bertelsen, who is local union leader at Baker Hughes, says businesses should not exploit fluctuations in the industry to reduce the employees’ wages and working conditions.

-We had no other option but to go on strike. We cannot let employers exploit the current situation to squeeze us, he says.

Bertelsen says that the workers under the Oil Service Agreement must still keep up the pressure to shrink the distance in wages towards Operator-, Drilling and Catering.

-It’s not at all right that a worker under the Oil Service Agreement will earn much less than everyone else who works in the oil industry. Also the principle that there should be real negotiations for workers onshore is important to us, says Bertelsen.

Fantastic support

The four local union leaders say there is fantastic good support for the strike within the companies.

We are impressed by all those affected by the strike. And on the support we receive from both employee representatives, individual members and union, say the four.

They emphasize that in reality they are fighting a battle for everyone who works in the oil industry.

– The companies engage in a targeted battle against our wages and working conditions. If we give in now, this pressure will also be spread to other areas. In turn, other groups working offshore will be squeezed. Therefore, this fight is of utmost  importance, says Kjell Vestly.