Hundreds of platform workers strike off Norway

July 10 (UPI) — Hundreds of workers on nine offshore installations in Norwegian waters opted for labor action to press for higher wages, a trade group said.

“There is a breach of the mediation between the Norwegian Shipowners’ Association and Safe,” Jakob Korsgaard, the managing director of the Shipowners’ Association and the managing director of Maersk Drilling Norway, said in a statement. “This means that more than 600 rig workers will be on nine installations out of strike on July 10.”

Safe is a labor union representing offshore platform workers. Another 900 workers on 20 installations could take further action July 15 unless a settlement is reached.

Labor groups say they want an 8 percent increase in salary. It’s the second planned labor action in the region so far this month.

Labor union Unite announced last week that a series of planned labor strikes would target the Alwyn, Dunbar and Elgin platforms, operated by French supermajor Total. Three full-day stoppages are planned July 26, Aug. 6 and Aug. 20. Two 12-hour strikes are planned July 30 and Aug. 13. A continuous ban on overtime hours begins July 23.

Wullie Wallace, the regional leader for Unite, said workers weren’t getting enough compensation for the long hours spent offshore, which members said was disruptive to the balance between private lives and time on the job.

British oil and gas fields in the North Sea are facing a period of maturation, though industry interest remains high.

Norway, meanwhile, is one of the main suppliers of oil and natural gas to the European market, apart from Russia. For Norway, oil and gas operations represented about 14 percent of the nation’s gross domestic product and 40 percent of its export value last year.

Labor action comes amid higher crude oil prices. A market slump in early 2016 forced many regional operators to cut back on staffing. The price for Brent crude oil, the global benchmark based on oil coming from the North Sea, was trading near $79 per barrel on Tuesday, up from the $46.57 per barrel on this date last year.

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