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Last Updated: Friday, 25 August 2006, 11:26 GMT 12:26 UK
Oil industry fights over time law
Oil workers
UKOOA said the North Sea's future was threatened
The North Sea oil industry is stepping up a campaign to prevent the full implementation of new working time rules on offshore installations.

The government is to tighten the law, giving offshore workers the same rights to time off as onshore staff.

The industry argues it could force parts of the North Sea to close down.

The UK Offshore Operators Association (UKOOA) said it was not economically viable for workers to be deemed to be working while sleeping offshore.

UKOOA is prepared to accept the new law in principle, but not if it means offshore staff are classed as on shift when actually in bed.

What's needed here is communication and negotiation. I am hopeful it can be resolved
Jake Molloy
OILC union

The association claims this could result in offshore employees working just eight days a month, with one week on and three weeks off.

UKOOA director Chris Allen told BBC Scotland: "It means that the industry would not be able to carry on because there are simply not enough people to go around.

"It's only when people are doing their job that they are working."

He added: "You can expect us to use whatever opportunities present themselves to fight for the long-term future health of our industry."

Jake Molloy, of the OILC union, told the BBC Scotland news website: "I think I speak on behalf of most of the workers when I say that any hardship could quite easily be avoided.

"What's needed here is communication and negotiation. I am hopeful it can be resolved."

The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) said the issue was of concern to many industries and the department was currently seeking clarification through new legislation in Europe.

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