UNITE Scotland has today launched a campaign to protect jobs in the offshore sector as the Covid-19 pandemic continues.

The global health crisis has led to a worldwide slump in oil demand and the price of a barrel, with tens of thousands of jobs being threatened as a result.

The trade union, as part of the Offshore Co-ordinating Group (OCG), launched a report last month titled A Crisis Behind A Crisis.

It highlighted that upwards of 3500 employees in the industry are immediately at risk of redundancies or furloughing by September this year.

The report was then followed by warnings from trade body Oil and Gas UK (OGUK) that up to 30,000 jobs could be lost in the next 18 months.

Unite’s new extensive campaign will involve the distribution of thousands of electronic postcards to union members, which will then be used to make direct contact with MPs and MSPs in order to gain support for several key measure proposals. These include direct state investment in the sector via low cost loans to operators, making the UK Government “equity partners” in any future operations, and for OGUK and the Government to “honour and speed up” the Roadmap to 2035 commitment in a bid to maintain 135,000 North Sea jobs.

The campaign also looks to set up “proper collective bargaining” with unions both now and when transitioning to greener industries, including a trade union voice in relation to the introduction of new tech and automation.

Pat Rafferty, Unite’s Scottish secretary, said: “Unite has launched the Save Off-Shore jobs campaign amid the crisis currently facing the oil and gas sector.

“Nobody should be under any illusions that a potential catastrophe is facing tens of thousands of workers over the coming 18 months unless swift government action occurs to stabilise the sector.

“As the largest trade union representing offshore workers, our campaign will be driven by thousands of Unite members who will directly take our demands to members of parliament both at Holyrood and Westminster through electronic postcards.

“All politicians will be judged on how they can support the livelihood of our members as action is required now.”

The action comes after the Offshore Contractors Association (OCA) served notice to dismantle a collective agreement covering the terms and conditions of around 7000 offshore workers. The agreement covers a peak of 10,000 workers during the summer shutdown.

Eight major oil companies are a part of the OCA, including Aker Solutions, Altrad, Brand, Muilhlhan, Petrofac, Stork, Wood Group and Worley. The OCA says there were “significant advantages” to replacing the pact with a “new model”, but the decision has been blasted within the industry.

Chairman of the OCG, Jake Molloy, said that ending the system and having a “free-for-all” went against “every principle” held in the sector.