Industrial relations in the North Sea oil and gas industry 1965-1995
This thesis analyses the reasons why the system of industrial relations on the United Kingdom continental shelf is very different from that which prevails both onshore and on the Norwegian continental shelf, where the same technology is used to produce an identical product. The scopeo f the researche ncompassesth e relationships of the trade unions and the offshore companies, both Norwegian and British, where they concern employment and related matters such as accident prevention and those interventions which govermnents have made in response to particular events. In addition research papers and other reports which have a close bearing on the human resource management of offshore employees have received attention. British trade unions have failed to win full recognition offshore after "first oil" because the oil companies have been determined to exclude them and have exhibited a cohesivenesso f purposei n this respectt hrough their formidable employers' association, UKOOA. By comparison trade union efforts have lacked cohesion on account of internal disputes and the indeterminate position of the IUOOC within the trade union structure. Even the assistance of a friendly disposed government which persuaded the employers to permit recruitment visits offshore has had no effect on membership which remains derisory. Although the Norwegian LO recognised as early as 1975 that a new union for all offshore workers was necessary, the TUC has never shown the same realism. OILC seeks to cater for all UK offshore workers, but survives only as a small independent union outside the STUC. It arose spontaneously in 1989 as a crossunion group of workers who wanted a national offshore agreement but after initial support from the official trade unions was later abandoned by them. There have been some dramatic accidents offshore, none worse than Piper Alpha in 1988 with its 167 fatalities. This has concentrated attention on the maintenance of safe working environments and trade unions have sought, unsuccessfully, to win recognition from the employers by demanding representation on installation safety committees. As the oil industry now implements a programme of cost savings there have been accompanying assertions in some publications that the oil industry's commitment to accident prevention remains secondary to profitability, assertions this thesis finds groundless.