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Date:Wednesday 8th November 2006
Title:Striking North Sea divers to vote on new pay offer

EDINBURGH, Scotland: More than 900 North Sea divers who service and maintain offshore oil and natural gas platforms will vote on a new pay offer aimed at ending their indefinite strike, a union said Tuesday.

The Rail, Maritime and Transport union said the divers received the new offer from employers on Monday night for a 40 percent raise over three years following talks with the conciliation service ACAS.

The divers went on strike Nov. 1 after rejecting a pay deal of 37 percent over three years. They had demanded a 50 percent raise, claiming the oil industry is enjoying record profits while salaries have slipped over the last 20 years.

Ballots were being sent to the divers Tuesday. The strike will continue until the result of the referendum is known, the union said.
"The offer has been made without strings, and will be put to members in a referendum that will close later this week," said RMT general secretary Bob Crow. "Importantly, the employers have also agreed to formulate proper bargaining procedures with each of the seven companies involved, although they will still come together when pay is discussed for all seven companies."

Judith Patten, a spokeswoman for the U.K. Offshore Diving Industry Agreement, an association of employers, said: "We have made some progress. We hope that this will be a first step towards a resolution of the current situation. We as employers are naturally eager to see an agreement in place and diving recommence just as soon as possible."

North Sea divers descend to depths of up to 130 feet (40 meters) in freezing water, carrying out installation and maintenance work on wells and pipelines.

Experienced divers can earn up to 46,000 pounds (US,600, €68,660) a year, but they have to pay for their own training, which can cost 20,000 pounds (US,100; €30,000).

They generally retire at age 50.

Source: The Associated Press


Date:Wednesday 1st November 2006
Title:UNION LEADER WARNS OF TROUBLE AS STRIKE BEGINS

A Strike by North Sea divers could cripple the oil and gas industry, a union chief warned.

More than 900 diving personnel began an indefinite walk-out today after rejecting the latest pay offer by employers.

The general secretary of the Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers Union, Bob Crow, said the walk-out would continue until employers came back with better conditions.

He said: "This will have a huge impact on the oil and gas industry. There's no doubt it will hit production."

The divers want a 50% rise and turned down a new three-year deal, which employers said was worth 37% over the years.

Source: Aberdeen Press & Journal