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North Sea oil workers poised for wildcat strike action

Social media channels are being used to encourage employees to walk out next week in protest over the cost-of-living crisis and soaring profits at energy firms. 

North Sea oil workers are poised to engage in wildcat strike action next week, with proposals to down tools and stop work at 1PM on 8th September. Messages have been spreading online asking for staff to get involved in the hope of sending a clear message out about the spiralling cost of living crisis, in which energy is a key driving force.

According to industry news site Energy Voice, Contractors working for the energy services firms Wood, Bilfinger and Stork are said to be involved in the action, while trade body Offshore Energies UK (OEUK) has appealed for people not to engage with the action – which would be the second set of wildcat strikes in the sector so far this year – and instead ‘follow the official channels’ to voice grievances. Profits from Wood’s Norwegian operations alone have tripled in the past four years. 

Those behind the proposed strikes are said to be unhappy with differences between pay for onshore and offshore staff, along with conditions set out in the Energy Services Agreement calculation given record profits posted by major energy firms current reaping the benefits of historically high gas and oil prices.

The largest of those companies based in the UK, BP, was expecting to pay more than £1bn in taxes this year before an additional windfall tax was announced as a result of the soaring profits, meaning the final figure is expected to be significantly higher, despite a large writedown following the giant’s exit from Russia. In 2021, reports show the firm paid $127m in UK tax based on profit, but was given refunds of $50m for decommissioning. The first tax payment to the UK for its North Sea operations in years, 12 months prior the company received a $42m tax rebate.

Earlier this year, the climate charity Ashden condemned the UK government’s plans for further expansion of North Sea oil operations. 

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