Oil rig workers pile on the pressure

Submitted by Janine on 16 August, 1990 - 4:27 Author: Ray Ferris

"We got the result today, fact!" announced Ronnie McDonald of the Offshore Industry Liaison Commitee after the fourth successive strike in 11 days.

74 offshore installations were affected, bringing in new strikers and those downmanned from previous stoppages.

The determination to fight has spread to onshore workers. 50 walked out at MOD Coulport on Monday, 200 at Browns Engineering on Tuesday. Over the weekend workers at two rigbuilding yards, Davey and Ardersier and St Fergus gas terminal came out spontaneously in solidarity.

The action has encouraged workers employed directly bu the oil copmanies too. Workers at Shell's Brent C voted on on shift by 8 to 1 to leave their staff association and 6 to 1 for union representation. A telex intercepted by OILC stated "there comes a stage at which people will not take it anymore, and that point is rapdily approaching."

This prompted Ronnie McDonald to admit he'd "love to see Shell staff looking to the same sort of solutions we want in the North Sea."

Contraction bosses in the OCC had done everything they could to sabotage this strike. They forced many workers to sign no-strike agreements on pain of dismissal before allowing them back offshore. And they phoned round workers on the beach asking them to undermine the action. But the response of a contract worker from Glasgow was typical. "I can't wait to get back out there on Thursday so I can down tools."

After failing to sink the strike the OCC launched a campaign of lies. Announcing 80% worked normally they also made conciliatory noises towards the OILC in a press statemeent.

"Total bloody nonsense, sheer fantasy" said Ronnie McDonald of these figures, adding "it appears they already have peace, so why are they suing for it? By their own figures there isn't a problem."

The truth is that both the OCC and especially the oil companies have been shaken by the scale and determination of these strikes. They need to take advantage of the summer weather to repair the ageing rigs and to fit safety valves insisted on after the Piper Alpha disaster - but actually recommended 10 years ago. The stoppages now threaten production and profits in the future.

The striking contract workers are in a strong position. They should press home their advantage by stepping up the pressure on both the OCC and oil companies now.

Representatives of the OILC will be meeting leaders of the 7 trade unions with offshore members on Thursday.

It is vital that control of the strike does not fall out of the hands of the OILC. This could lead to a shabby deal.

Send messages of support, donations, requests for speakers to OILC, c/o 52 Guild Street, Above Criterion Bar, 3rd Floor, Aberdeen, AB1 2NB.