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Aberdeen Press & Journal: Shell addresses offshore unions’ safety concerns

EXTRACTS: OILC general secretary Jake Molloy said: “Shell are trying to sell these installations but appeal” to be acting like some dodgy, second-hand car dealers trying to paint over the cracks and faults which clearly exist.”

Unite (Amicus Section) regional officer Graham ‘Iran added: “Despite the constant denials by Shell that there were clear safety problems. Shell have once again been found wanting in their approach to safety issues. I personally fear for the ongoing safety of the offshore workforce on these installations.”

THE ARTICLE

Thursday November 8 2007
www.thisisnorthscotland.co.uk

‘ASPECTS OF COMPLAINTS’ ABOUT FIVE NORTH SEA PLATFORMS UPHELD BY HSE

BY IAN FORSYTH

Oil giant Shell has taken action to address safety-concerns on five North Sea platforms at the centre of a bitter row with unions, it emerged today.

The move follows an investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) when the unions claimed there were gaps in “safety-critical” positions on the five installations which are being sold by Shell.

The HSE said in a statement that the complaint from the OILC and Unite (Amicus Section) unions was wide-ranging and complex in nature.

It added: ‘The investigation concluded that aspects of the complaint were justified and these conclusions have been communicated formally to Shell by correspondence, the offshore workforce and the trades unions.

“Shell has taken action to address the matters and to ensure that its own procedures are followed and monitored and, where necessary, additional measures are implemented.

“HSE will be monitoring this action to ensure that the management systems are addressing those matters found as requiring attention.”

A spokeswoman for Shell added: ‘This investigation by the HSE is ongoing and we are co-operating fully with them.

“We continue to keep our staff and the USE informed. Safety remains our first priority’. If manning levels and competence fall below an appropriate level, we will not hesitate to shut down and secure our operations.”

Shell has been at loggerheads with 200 workers on the Cormorant Alpha, North Cormorant, Eider Alpha, Dunlin Alpha and Tern Alpha following the announcement in June that the platforms were to be sold. The staff involved have been using Shell’s internal grievance procedure as regards future employment options being offered by the company.

Previously, the company’s employees in similar situations have had a variety of choices, including voluntary severance, but in this case are only being offered the option of transferring to the new owner.

The unions last night issued a press release claiming that all but one of the areas of complaint raised by them had been upheld by the HSE.

These included workloads, the management culture, working hours and emergency response teams.

The unions said it was only the latter issue, regarding emergency response team numbers, that was rejected.

OILC general secretary Jake Molloy said: “Shell are trying to sell these installations but appeal” to be acting like some dodgy, second-hand car dealers trying to paint over the cracks and faults which clearly exist.”

Unite (Amicus Section) regional officer Graham ‘Iran added: “Despite the constant denials by Shell that there were clear safety problems. Shell have once again been found wanting in their approach to safety issues. I personally fear for the ongoing safety of the offshore workforce on these installations.”

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