Page last updated at 14:03 GMT, Wednesday, 25 February 2009

Deal to end offshore blacklisting

A joint deal was reached between unions and employers

A deal to prevent offshore companies "blacklisting" workers has been hailed as the biggest step in improving safety since the Cullen report on Piper Alpha.

Oil and Gas UK, which represents North Sea operators, has reached an agreement with unions to end the practice known as Not Required Back (NRB) next month.

The process had allowed employers to remove workers without giving a reason.

Unions had said NRB was unfair and discouraged whistleblowers coming forward with safety concerns.

John Taylor, regional industrial organiser of the T&G section of the Unite union, has described it as the biggest step forward in offshore safety since Lord Cullen's report into the Piper Alpha disaster of 1988.

He said: "These new guidelines are a major step forward, not only in health and safety but in industrial relations. These guidelines will ensure that OIMs (Offshore Installation Managers) and senior managers are held to account for their decision to remove someone from the platform.

"I believe that there is a genuine commitment by industry leaders to ensure that an environment is created where individuals can actively participate in safety offshore, without fear of repercussions."

'Emotive issue'

Workers labelled as NRB would not only lose their post with a particular employer, but would also be unlikely to be wanted by any other operator.

Unions said staff have been banned from working offshore without there being proper disciplinary proceedings.

The industry has only recently publicly admitted the NRB practice happens.

Malcolm Webb, Oil and Gas UK's chief executive, said: "While we are only talking about a very small number of cases, we recognise that this emotive issue needed to be rectified by industry.

"We want to leave no doubt that safety issues can be raised by anyone at any time, so even the perception that this was not always the case needed to be dealt with. I am particularly encouraged that the new guidelines have been endorsed by employers and trade union representatives alike."

The new guidelines will be reviewed after 12 months.

Print Sponsor

Offshore blacklisting to be ended
20 Feb 09 |  North East/N Isles
Unions vow to expose blacklisting
17 Oct 07 |  North East/N Isles

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