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UK union adds to strike dates at Total North Sea oil, gas fields

Highlights

New strikes set for March 19, April 2

First 24-hour action set for Monday

Contractors issue redundancy notices

London — The UK's Unite trade union said Tuesday it had added extra 24-hour strikes by subcontractors at Total's North Sea platforms in a protest over changes to offshore rotas.

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Unite said employees of service providers Aker Solutions and Petrofac would down tools on March 19 and April 2 at the Elgin-Franklin, Alwyn and Dunbar platforms, in addition to already announced strikes on March 11, March 27 and April 12.

As subcontractors, the personnel are considered less critical to the operation of the platforms, meaning a total shutdown of operations might be avoidable for a limited period, although the extent of the likely impact was unclear.

A dispute last year involving Total's own staff at the same facilities did disrupt production, before eventually being resolved. Both disputes have centered on Total's decision to switch to so-called 3:3 work rotas, extending the length of time personnel spend offshore to three weeks.

Last year's strikes reduced gas output by as much as 13 million cu m/d and oil output by around 70,000 b/d.

"The union was informed by Aker and Petrofac that parent company Total will not change its position in the dispute, which centers on both companies proposing to change the shift rotation from 2:3 to a 3:3/3:4 rotation, and to reduce the existing terms and conditions," Unite said.

It added that Aker and Petrofac had issued redundancy notices as of Tuesday, and begun a consultation period on terminating and re-engaging all workers.

"Following the redundancy notices being issued, Unite has now issued further dates of industrial action on the Elgin-Franklin, North Alwyn and Dunbar platforms as part of discontinuous strike action," it said.

Action previously scheduled for a number of three-hour periods on selected days from March 18-22 and April 1-5 has now been consolidated into the 24-hour strikes, a Unite spokesman said.

SHETLAND GAS PLANT

In addition to the action at the platforms, workers are also set to strike at the Shetland Gas Plant for 24 hours on five days in March, April and May.

The 14 million cu m/d capacity plant takes gas from Total's gas fields in the area West of Shetland, including Laggan-Tormore, Glenlivet and Edradour.

According to the latest data from the UK Oil and Gas Authority, the combined output of the fields toward the end of last year was around 10 million cu m/d.

Unite said it could schedule further strikes at the facility.

"Unite members at the Shetland Gas Plant are also seriously considering further industrial action due to Aker serving redundancy notices to the workforce on the same basis," the union said.

"Further dates for escalated industrial action will be announced in due course."

Unite regional industrial officer John Boland said the actions by Aker and Petrofac at the behest of Total were "brutal and scandalous."

"Instead of responding to the legitimate concerns our members have over the imposition of the hated 3:3 or 3:4 rotas in a responsible and constructive manner, the companies have responded by serving redundancy notices. This disgraceful behaviour will not go unchallenged and for this reason we have had no option but to increase the scheduled days of industrial action," Boland said.

UNITE ESCALATES NORTH SEA STRIKE ACTION

24-hour strikes at Elgin-Franklin, North Alwyn, Dunbar
March 11
March 19
March 27
April 2
April 12

24-hour strikes at Shetland Gas Plant
March 13
March 27
April 10
April 24
May 8

Source: Unite

-- Stuart Elliott, stuart.elliott@spglobal.com

-- Nick Coleman, nick.coleman@spglobal.com

-- Edited by Alisdair Bowles, newsdesk@spglobal.com

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