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Crunch talks fail to avert 48-hour North Sea strike

Nearly 400 workers will down tools on seven Shell oil and gas platforms on Thursday.

North Sea: Oil workers during 24-hour strike last week.
North Sea: Oil workers during 24-hour strike last week. RMT

Last-minute talks aimed at averting a 48-hour North Sea strike have failed.

Nearly 400 workers will down tools on seven Shell oil and gas platforms at 6.30am on Thursday.

It follows a 24-hour strike last week and a series of shorter stoppages over the weekend - the first industrial action in the North Sea for more than 28 years.

Unite and RMT union members working for Wood Group are concerned about further cuts to pay and an unpopular switch to a three-week work cycle.

Offshore workers have been hit by a series of pay cuts over the last two years as the result of a slump in the value of oil.

High supply and low demand saw the price of a barrel of Brent crude plunge as low as $26 in January. It later climbed to $50 and now sits at about $40, a third of its price two years ago.

Oil and Gas UK believes 120,000 people will have lost their jobs in the oil industry by the end of this year.

Dave Stewart, chief executive of Wood Group's eastern region business unit, said: "We are hugely disappointed that industrial action is progressing despite the significant movements made and what we believed was constructive, continued engagement with the unions over the weekend and on Monday.

"We had agreed to suspend the implementation of the terms and conditions currently proposed to enable further detailed discussions with our employees and the unions. We believed the unions had also agreed to this during our meeting on Monday, which was attended by union representatives, shop stewards and Wood Group management.

"We were extremely disappointed by the last minute change to what we feel was a very constructive way forward and are actively seeking clarity on why this decision was taken."

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