Socialist Organiser

OILC: the new union picks up momentum

Recruitment to the new offshore workers' union is going very well and steadily.

Regular weekly meetings will be started in Dundee in addition to Aberdeen, Glasgow and Newcastle, and offshore workers in Liverpool have asked for meetings to be set up.

The priority for the next six months or so will be setting up recruitment meetings, and getting solidarity motions through other unions' meetings, pressing for TUC recognition.

Offshore workers form new union


Tom Rigby

"We've only been recruiting since last Friday and so far the response has been very positive indeed. The people offshore know us, I'm very optimistic."

That's how Ronnie MacDonald, Chair of the Offshore Industry Liaison Committee (OILC) summed up the tasks facing the committee just four days after they had made the momentous decision to form themselves into a new union for offshore workers.

Support the 'splitters'!



The decision of the Offshore Industry Liaison Committee (OILC) to form itself into a new union has brought forth predictable cries of condemnation from predictable sources.

Frank Doran, the Labour Party's 'spokesman on Oil and Gas', called the decision "damaging to the cause of workers offshore"; Jimmy Airlie of the AEU called it "foolish and tragic"; while Alex Ferry, General Secretary of the Confederation of Shipbuilding and Engineering Unions (CSEU) called upon offshore workers to put their faith in the "existing unions".

OILC poll results

Percentage of employees who believe that the workers would be more effectively represented by a single industrial union:
TU Members: 85%
Non Unionists: 81%
Total: 83%

Percentage of employees who would consider joining an industrial trade union which represented all offshore workers regardless of occupation:
TU Members: 82%
Non Unionists: 62%
Total: 71%

Percentage of employees who are trade unionists who feel their trade union adequately represents its members offshore:

"The future is ours"


OILC Standing Committee

The Offshore Industry Liaison Committee (OILC), which organised the unofficial strikes and rig occupations in the North Sea in 1989 and '90, has decided to form itself into a trade union for offshore workers. Here, the OILC Standing Committee explain their actions.


Anyone expecting euphoria at the formal announcement of the formation of an Offshore Workers' Union at the Queens Hotel in Brighton in 3 October was to be sadly disappointed.

"To do nothing is just not an option"


Ronnie MacDonald

Ronnie MacDonald explains how the Offshore Industry Liaison Committee plans to the the newly formed Offshore Workers' Union by focusing on health and safety iisues and the need for workers' unity on the rigs.


Among the many regulations under the Health and Safety at Work Act never extended offshore was the 1977 regulation on Safety Committees.

To break or not to break?


John O'Mahony

Elsewhere in this paper we carry reports on the new 'breakaway union' being formed by workers in the offshore oil and gas industry. What does history have to teach us about such breakaways?

In the Transitional Programme of 1938, Leon Trotsky argued that we should be against breakaway union of a sectarian type that pull away from the broad mass of workers in a particular industry. On the other hand we are against making a powerful rank and file movement bow down to entrenched bureaucrats. We are against sectarian breakaways, and we are also against making a fetish of unity.

A union for offshore workers


Offshore Industry Liaison Committee

OILC is seeking certification as an independent trade union for offshore oil workers. It is anticipated that the process will take to two years to complete. However, OILC, for the purposes of Section 28 of the Trade Union and Labour Relations Act (TULRA) 1974 is already a trade union. Recruitment has commenced.

It is OILC's intention to base itself in its already well-resourced headquarters in Aberdeen. Our branch fficers in Glasgow and Newcastle will remain open and we will open other offices as the need dictates.

Norwegian union pledges support for OILC


OFS, Norway

We are informed that the British Offshore Industry Liaison Committee, OILC, will announced its transition from being a rank-and-file organisation to becoming an independent trade union later today [Friday 4 September].

Let it be known throughout the British offshore industry that OFS, Norway's leading offshore union, is applauding and welcoming your decision.

Rally to the rig workers!


Tom Rigby

"Trade unionism in the offshore industry is facing a crisis." That's how Ronnie MacDonald, Chair of the rank and file based Offshore Industry Liaison Committee (OILC) described the situation prior to a major meeting in London this Thursday (September 26) to discuss presenting a common trade union front to the employers.

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