Fair wages for offshore workers Nov02

Many of our people in Eastern Region, especially in Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex, have been affected by EU legislation for Oil & Gas Offshore Workers. These workers are offshore for 2 weeks at a time and can come off for 2 weeks or more. Unpredictable and unfavourable weather conditions make their transfers long and weary. Whilst the pay may be good, the families suffer from stress as the work is dangerous.

The EU Working Time Directive allows the weekly working time to be averaged to 48 hours a week with 1 day's rest in 7 (or 2 every 14 days), 11 hours' rest between working days, 20 minutes' rest break if the working day is over 6 hours, health assessment for night workers with limits on night working as well as special protection for young workers. Also, it offers 4 weeks annual paid leave.

I have received many complaints from offshore workers about sharp practices where these EU guidelines are flouted. Workers are offered less paid leave and told that they can terminate work as so many are waiting to take on their jobs!

These men give up the joy of being with their families each evening. They risk their lives in offering a reliable service. Employers must recognise the quality and dependability of UK offshore workers.

I hope the employers association UKOOA and the unions will resolve this issue urgently so that the oil giants and the engineering service companies can strike a deal that is fair and sustainable.