UNITE yesterday warned of ‘a dangerous and quickening race to the bottom’ in the UK’s offshore oil and gas industry as oil giants Shell and Taqa announced they would be axing 350 North Sea jobs.
Workers at Shell are facing 250 job cuts and imposed changes to shift patterns from two weeks on/two weeks off, to three weeks on/three weeks off, while Taqa plans to cut 100 posts.
The latest blow to offshore workers’ livelihoods comes less than a week after the Chancellor George Osborne announced a £1.3 billion tax break for the UK offshore industry to encourage growth and sustainability.
In 2014, Royal Dutch Shell generated net profits of $15 billion while its Chief Executive Officer Ben van Beurden became the second highest paid boss in the FTSE 100 with a remarkable pay deal worth $24.2 million.
Unite Scottish Secretary, Pat Rafferty, said: ‘Only last week the industry got everything it wanted from the Chancellor in the form of a £1.3 billion tax break, which industry voices claimed was necessary to boost growth and sustainability.
‘Instead, the cut and gut of ordinary offshore workers’ livelihoods and terms and conditions goes unchallenged while executive pay across oil company majors goes through the roof.’
• The Bank of England yesterday warned that low growth across the eurozone, Greece’s mounting cash crisis and a slowing Chinese economy pose a significant risk to the UK’s financial system.
The Bank’s Financial Policy Committee (FPC) said in a quarterly update that these could all cause ‘abrupt shifts in global risk appetite that in turn might lead to a sudden reappraisal of underlying vulnerabilities in highly indebted economies, or sharp adjustments in financial markets’.
The FPC will launch a review of banks’ capital buffers over the next year, including bonds that can help absorb losses, according to a letter from Bank Governor Carney to Chancellor Osborne. Contingent convertible, or ‘coco’ bonds, are intended to prevent another round of bank bailouts – they can be converted into equity or written off entirely if the issuing bank’s capital drops below a pre-agreed threshold.