- Ground-breaking UK coalition of offshore oil and gas workers, climate groups and trade unions are backing a new plan that would deliver a fair transition away from fossil fuels to protect jobs, communities and climate
- Over 1000 surveyed oil and gas workers supported the demands to remove barriers to transitioning into renewables; to ensure improved safety, job security and fair pay across the energy industry; and a longer-term vision to share the benefits of the energy system fairly
- Research exposes the extent of exploitation and exclusion from decision-making endemic in the offshore UK oil and gas industry. In the face of political inaction, workers are ready to lead
- Costed demands include a permanent Energy Excess Profits tax, a sovereign wealth fund, public ownership, rig decommissioning costs to be paid for by polluting companies, and a minimum wage for migrant workers.
‘Our Power: Offshore oil and gas workers’ demands for a just energy transition’ is an oil industry first, putting high carbon workers front and centre in a plan for decarbonisation and public ownership, campaigners say.
The list of 10 demands was created through two years of discussions and participatory workshops with offshore workers and climate campaigners. The plan has been backed by over 90% of over 1000 workers surveyed, along with key trade unions in the energy sector.
The demands come as oil companies announce all time profit records with five global firms
making almost $200billion in profit in 2022. Meanwhile, the number of people in fuel poverty in the UK is set to double due to rising household energy prices.
Eilidh Robb, Energy Campaigner at Friends of the Earth Europe comments on the report:
“In the fight to build a better energy future for all, we would be falling short of addressing the full failings of the current system if we didn’t deliver a just transition for fossil fuel industry workers and prioritise the energy poor in the move to clean, affordable energy for all. Today’s report shows us the opportunities we have for a just transition that improves workers’ rights and tackles the climate crisis. As Europe wrestles with its fossil fuel addiction, we can see a pathway emerging that delivers for the energy poor, workers, citizens and our planet – now we just need our decision makers to see it too.”
Mark*, a rigging supervisor who has worked offshore for twenty years, described declining pay and the need for a government-backed jobs guarantee:
“I spoke to a guy who had worked in the oil and gas industry for 40 years. He asked me where I got my survival suit, because he wanted one for the winter. Not to go out anywhere or for work, but to sit inside at home. He couldn’t afford his gas and electric over the winter. To have someone who has worked their whole lives in the industry asking me a question like that, I felt like crying.”
Campaigners say that a worker-led just transition would reinvest money in communities through a sovereign wealth fund and share the benefits of our energy system fairly. Governments are losing out on revenue that could support households and public services, while private, polluting companies profit.
Workers also backed demands for fair pay and protections across the sector, arguing that the new offshore wind industry cannot be modelled in the broken image of the oil industry.
John, 60, offshore for over 30 years, self-employed:
“The oil companies are always in a race to the bottom, they’ll cut wages at every opportunity. I’m not a foreign national, so I’m ok with the pay structure I’m on, but I feel for the foreign workers that don’t have the same rights. One example I can give you is when I joined a ship for a wind farm off the coast of Maplethrope, a lot of the crew was Chinese, Russian or Latvian, being paid a pittance. It was a bloody disgrace. Some of them were on as low as £4.80 an hour and offshore for 4-6 months at a time. The British and Americans working on the same boat would do one month on, one off with much better pay.”
Comments from report authors and supporters
Platform and Friends of the Earth Scotland call on UK and Scottish Governments to back the fully costed demands.
Gabrielle Jeliazkov, just transition campaigner at Platform, said:
“The future of the UK’s energy system should be in the hands of workers and communities. Industry profiteering and government inaction has left us with soaring bills, declining working conditions and no plan for an energy transition. In the midst of the climate and cost of living crises, offshore oil and gas workers have developed a way forward. Politicians must deliver on these demands. We cannot trust obstructive industry bosses working in their own interests to develop solutions that protect workers, communities and the climate.”
Friends of the Earth Scotland head of campaigns Mary Church, said:
“Our current energy system is destroying our climate, is unaffordable to millions and is failing the people who work in it. Climate science is crystal clear that we have to rapidly phase out fossil fuels if we want a liveable future. Failure from politicians to properly plan and support the transition to renewables is leaving workers totally adrift on the whims of oil and gas companies, and the planet to burn. The Scottish and UK Governments must pick up these demands and run with them as part of their just transition plan for the energy sector.”
The full list of demands is:
- A government-backed jobs guarantee
- An offshore training passport that supports workers to retrain in the renewables sector
- Investment in ports and renewables manufacturing hubs in the UK, creating and retaining local jobs
- Full access to union representation and collective negotiation of pay, health and safety regulations and benefits
- Equal pay for migrant workers and a higher minimum wage for all
- Trusted grievance and whistleblowing policies and protection from blacklisting
- Public ownership for public good
- A permanent ‘Energy Excess Profits Tax’ and a sovereign wealth fund
- Polluting companies to pay for the decommissioning of oil rigs
- Investing wealth in communities and supporting growth in new industries
*Fear of blacklisting causes many workers not to speak out. Names of contributors have been changed to protect their identities.