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Neil, quick question for you - as taxation becomes a more significant issue now and in future, are you aware of any attempt (past, present or future) by unions to look at getting a qualified opinion towards the best way to be employed?

I'm thinking along the lines of getting an accountant/tax advisor to sit down and work out what the best/lowest tax exposure is. In this line, I'm looking to see if it's better to work as;

an agency employee,
staff member of an rov operator,
self-employed soul trader,
limited liability company as a paid employee,
limited liability company as a low-paid employee and end of year dividend payout??

Best Regards,

Grant
Talk in anger and you'll make the best speech you'll ever regret.

www.savante.co.uk
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If you do join the RMT by phone (London number) request that they sign you up to Aberdeen branch S100 OILC Offshore Energy Workers. Certainly not Aberdeen 001 General shipping.

They may not know too much about that in London (this should be corrected soon) so after you join call the S100 branch in Aberdeen (+44 1224 210 118) and speak with them. They proved very helpful and will give you their email address to which you can send your new RMT membership number and request a transfer to the correct S100 branch. They will do the rest.
James Mc
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I don't work in the ROV business yet. But am actively trying to get in. In my present job one of the first people we were introduced to as an apprentice was the local uni0n rep and we were all told to join. At the time it was a nationalised industry. At that time we had perks and allowances etc. that had been hard fought for over many years. In the early 90s the industry went private and all contracts of employment were changed. The company just stuck two fingers up to the uni0ns of which there were many from the office workers to the guys on the front end of the business. All allowances were cut with immediate effect. We as a local unit all rejected the new agreement and from what I was told so did most of the other front line staff. But the company had us over a barrel as it was now a joint uni0n agreement with the office staff, outside workers etc. This allowed them to sweeten the office workers into agreeing to the new conditions and as there are a lot more of them the agreements were pasted. The local rep went to a meeting of all reps and officials so the reasoning behind the new agreement with the company could be explained. At that meeting the uni0n officials and the directors entered together and left together and the officials towed the company line.

THE UNI0N HAD LOST ITS TEETH AND ALL RESPECT SUCKLED UP WITH THE COMPANY DIRECTORS THAT DAY.

Now all it is good for is to provide legal aid if you are in trouble or have an accident, but I suppose all we have to do is wait for the next ad break on TV to get accident cover.

What I am trying to say is that when the uni0ns were fighting for us as separate units they could focus on our concerns and requirements. But the company got wize and screwed us by combining all bargaining and offering nothing but take it or leave it.

If a uni0n is to work it must be one uni0n with one voice speaking for ROVers only and no joint uni0n agreements, if the industry has more than one uni0n it will only serve as a way for the companies to divide and conquer
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Tagan wrote:
......................

If a uni0n is to work it must be one uni0n with one voice speaking for ROVers only and no joint uni0n agreements, if the industry has more than one uni0n it will only serve as a way for the companies to divide and conquer


I agree. The Aberdeen RMT/OILC - S100 branch is only for Offshore Energy Workers. A Uni0n purely for ROV people will be too small to be effective. Using S100 to cover offshore workers pull the offshore workers together as a group. Far more effective IMHO.
Branch S100 has been set up after the merger of the OILC and the RMT in May of this year. The OILC people know the offshore game and it's shortfalls. On it's own the RMT didn't. Any person working offshore in the Energy Sector should head for that branch (S100) or request to be transferred there. The transfer idea is my suggestion not RMT/Uni0n policy but for sure if all members are in the same branch (in Aberdeen) it makes admin lot easier for those concerned.

One Uni0n idea is the way forward.
If people choose to join another Uni0n then that will weaken any representation that the RMT/OILC branch may be able to offer.

On the RMT/OILC Uni0n idea itself. Is it viable? Is it worth the effort?
You only need to look at Norway and Australia to see how effective collective collaboration can be. Divide and, as individuals, expect nothing other than to to be conquered. Join, work together, and results will come.
James Mc
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Guys,

I'm pleased that a number RMT members in “ROV” have applied to transfer to the OILC Branch. I think it's the sensible thing to do. I've begun the process of transferring you. It looks like this is going to take time. But it shouldn't inhibit anything we want to do. As far as we are concerned you will all be treated as OILC Branch members from now on and your actual transfer will take place in due course. Guys who don’t want to transfer just need to let me know their mail address and I’ll keep them updated too.

How we organise must surely be the next question. My position, both in the branch and in discussion with you guys, is that the only effective organisation is going to be “self organisation”. But I don't mean to imply that you're going to be left to get on with it. But neither is it the situation that "the uni0n", some esoteric entity, will do it for you. First and fore mostly only you guys know your end of the business. Only you guys know what you would like to see in the way of an agreement on wages and conditions. And only you guys should be deciding how to proceed.

What I, as OILC Branch secretary, can do is encourage you, get you the best advice available to me, and act, at least initially, as a focus for discussion and communication. What neither I nor the branch can do is organise for you.

We are very lucky in the OILC branch to have our former General Secretary, Jake Molloy as our Regional Organiser (for this purpose OILC is a region as well as a branch). He’s vastly experienced and has responsibility for negotiating on behalf of the members. Our ex chairman Mikey Craig is now our representative on the RMT’s “Committee of Executives” so he can raise issues important to OILC Branch members, on this, the highest body of the uni0n between AGMs.

My first suggestion is that you form yourselves into some sort of committee and elect as many reps (shop stewards – call them what you will) as you can from as many installations/units as you can. This can be done informally. If a guy wants to do it he's probably a good bet. If he's good but not to sure, then persuade him and support him. At the present there is no constitutional vehicle inside the branch (ie a sub branch or "klubb") but this could well change in the future. It would then seem to me that there are two main tasks. You need to decide what you want in the way of an agreement with the companies (a manifesto – a draft agreement call it what you want).

And then you need solidarity - ie you need to get as many of the ROVers in the uni0n as possible.

It’s at this point, I guess, that you will then need Jake’s services. He, I reckon would then be looking to arrange meetings with the employers (accompanied by some of you guys?) and begin to negotiate. Jake will no doubt set me straight if this isn’t exactly the protocol.

Since I last posted I've met Terje Nustad, "Leder" of the Norwegian uni0n SAFE to specifically discuss this issue (SAFE it seems organise nearly all the ROVers in Norway) Firstly he sends his best wishes and the message that he will do whatever he can to help us. There are it seems three SAFE klubbs organising ROV operatives. There are 173 SAFE members organised in the Acergy (formerly Stolt?) klubb. 215 members in the DeepOcean klubb and 136 in DOF Subsea (Geoconsult?) They have according to Terje, a very good agreement. You'll have to take my word for it as I take his, for the moment, as it's all in Norwegian. I do however have a friend fluent in Norwegian who will help us to decipher this.

I am a believer that there is no mileage in reinventing the wheel. The Norwegian agreement should form the basis for the agreement you eventually go for. However they are far ahead of us and their agreements might look like pie in the sky for the moment. But don't forget, it's the same companies helping to produce the same oil at the same prices.

On the issue of recruitment of ROVers into the uni0n I strongly advise you to begin to get some information into "Enough is Enough". I'm talking about letters stating individual points of view. Why you do/do not think it's a good idea to organise in OILC/RMT. Write articles with news of what's happening or not happening regarding wages and conditions and disciplinary and other issues likely to be of interest. I'll see if I can get any of the Norwegians to write something about how they organise and the gains they've made. Short and to the point is the style we’re looking for –material that will be readable by other workers who might be thinking about how they can get organised. Don’t worry about spelling and grammar. I’ll butcher it anyway. Only the truth of your message will remain untouched. That was an attempt at humour. Aim a little higher than this in your own submissions to EiE please.

You guys may well incur costs in the course of these activities and I will strongly argue that branch finances be used to support any activities that cannot be borne by yourselves. The branch has also been invited to send visitors to SAFE's Congress in Stavanger from 16th to 19th of October. I think it would be the ideal time for some of you who are serious about organising, to meet your Norwegian counterparts. Get in touch with me if you're interested. Accommodation and food will be met by SAFE and (I guess) fares will be met by RMT/OILC. You may well have seen in EiE that RMT have a training facility and that there was a school planned for 29-9 to 2-10. I don't know if that will go ahead but if you are interested please get back to me ASAP. There is no reason why we could not try and arrange to get a number of you together for training/discussion/planning at a time convenient to you. Think about this. As RMT members it is your facility.

I've just managed to successfully log in to the forum on ROVworld again after a break of a couple of weeks. Not as old and decrepit as I look (thank god)

Fraternally

Neil

The addresses below are available on their respective SAFE websites so there is no reason why I shouldn’t post them here. Neither is there a reason that UK ROVers shouldn’t make contact, and leave a short message of solidarity. I will also contact them, warn them that they can expect contact from UK ROVers, and explain that this is all being done with the blessing of SAFE "leder" Terje Nustad. But it might be an idea, if you have a flood of questions you want answered, to get them collated (on the site or wherever) them and send one mail rather than multiple mails containing duplicated material. These guys will be working ROVers and also organisers in their “klubb”s. They will no doubt be busy.

Cliff Edvard Olaussen is “klubb leder” of the Acergy SAFE Klubb
safeklubben@acergy-group.com
edv-olau@online.no
Johnny Andre Spangberg is “klubb leder” of the Deep Ocean SAFE Klubb
safeklubben@deepocean.no
jas@deepocean.no

I have no name, but the email address for the DOF Subsea Klubb is
styret@geoconsultklubben.org
OILC Branch Secretary
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Grant

The quick answer is I have no idea.

But in truth the best way to be employed is an easy one. I am pretty much in that situation. If not the best it’s bloody near it. I’m employed by a company that has a comprehensive agreement with a powerful uni0n. Fortunately for me I work in Norway and under a Norwegian agreement and am protected by Norwegian labour laws. My working situation is way ahead of what is available on the UK N Sea. Not purely in terms of what I take home at the end of the month. I work a 2 on and 4 off schedule so it’s not surprising that I could possibly earn more working two and two (but there's not a lot in it). However I also have very substantial overtime payments for working off schedule or over 14 days at a stretch or more than 132 days a year. These are considerable benefits and are designed to encourage employers to get us off the rig at the end of our hitch. And as a result of all this, not only have I a life but some left over to answer damn fool questions. (That as you no doubt realise was a joke – mind you if you have to explain that something is a joke then it’s probably not very funny). I have a good pension scheme, also fought for by the uni0ns, and though I came here too late to be able to retire with a full pension it will help me greatly in retirement

Probably more important than any of this is the respect that I get from my company and from management on the rig. Don’t get me wrong. It’s not that my company is any different from yours, or the oil company is not the same one that hands out shit elsewhere. The difference is that Norwegian uni0ns have fought in the bad old days and have changed the whole culture of offshore oilfield life. Even living conditions are , in general, superior to anything you’ll find world wide. And with strong uni0ns comes more responsive government. I’m not an expert but it looks like the oilfield in Norway has not been allowed to be a bloody free for all for the greediest bastards on the planet. Guess who they might be?

My feeling about the choices you list is that, ”staff member of an rov operator” would be best but I don’t know if it would put more pennies in individual pockets each month. If I spent my time trying to work out that I wouldn’t have time for the uni0n. But all the others are, it seems to me geared to have you all working as individuals precisely to discourage organisation. I guess working for one of the rov operating companies affords you the best chance of getting organised.
Not the answer you were looking for maybe. But they rarely are.
Are pensions provided by the rov companies , or is this a silly question? It’s a big issue.

I hope this helps

neil
OILC Branch Secretary
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It sounds very nice all this lets get together and beat the companies into giving us all lots of money.

How do we go about this. Strike, leaving every day rate worker with no income. Not to mention how would agencies react to workers not going on jobs.

Is this going to get to the point of non uni0n members being made to feel outcasts when offshore.

I have seen the effect of the uni0n movement on industry that is why Barrow does not now have a significant ship building capacity.

The reason Rover was not a viable business due to the uni0n movement pushing labour costs up.

Do we go to the bad old days of one out all out due to no toilet rolls in the communal loo.

As an industry we are generally a bunch of complainers who in general earn decent money have nice houses and drive newish cars of a good standard.

And lets not forget our new friends from eastern europe who any time they want can with no work visa wander over and undercut the entire workforce. Who will stop that the RMT, the OILC no. They cannot do anything about it due to european law and human rights and all the rest of it.



Also where do we draw the line on wages. Offshore rates for supervisors seem to pushing around the £400 per day level making a salary in the region of £80000 per annum.

That it pretty good by anybody's standard. As for conditions they are normally dictated by the client vessel and since there are tons of new ships being built all the time then they should in theory improve over the next few years.

This seems to be a really weird time to be pushing uni0ns when the industry seems to be improving on its own.

Unless uni0n membership becomes compulsory for me to go to work I will not be joining one.
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luckyjim37

I read and understood all that you wrote and feel that it’s good to debate stuff like this, but the one paragraph, quoted above, stood out in my mind.

luckyjim37 wrote:
............
This seems to be a really weird time to be pushing uni0ns when the industry seems to be improving on its own............


Your statement seems, on the face of it, to have some merit except that one should only ever negotiate from a position of strength, which is where ROV personnel are in the industry are right now. Wait until things go the other way and there will be no bargaining power left. By then it will simply be take it or leave it. New boats will mean little when that happens. The lack of a decent pension plan might be more noticeable though.

Moving on.....

Discussions should be held without the threat of strikes but through negotiating in a sensible manner with employers that may finally be inclined to listen to a united offshore work force. Right now employers are making far too much money at present to want to see any obstacle in the way of bumper annual profits, so conceding to a few demands for improved conditions and pay, here and there, would be well acceptable in their minds.

As we all know this industry is cyclical. When the next downturn comes, and it will, the offshore workers will be in a position of weakness once again. If people start getting a raw deal as a result of that how would we be expected to negotiate reasonable conditions then?

I’m not sure why the mention of the word ‘strike’ crops up as often as it does. This isn’t about strikes it’s about negotiating for fair pay and conditions. If you feel you are being paid well now, and that the conditions you are operating under are fine, then I can see why you may feel that a Uni0n is not for you. But for those that, over the years, have felt the operators have had it their own way for too long then a uni0n has it’s place in this industry.

I do note that it’s gone extremely quiet around here now that discussions have started openly on the Uni0n front. Why is that then?

Are people afraid to debate this because of perceived repercussions from their management/employers or is it simply of no interest to anyone?

Maybe I should answer that one myself because with almost one thousand views of this thread I doubt if it is of no interest so there must be another inhibiting factor at play.
James Mc
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I agree the work is cyclical but what help is a uni0n at that time. If there is no work there are no jobs we all know this.

As for being in a position of power when negotiating what power do we have over the employer other than withdrawing ourselves. This is called striking as far as I am aware.

There was a time when the workplace conditions in every industry were terrible and at that time there may have been a place for a uni0n however I feel these days that time has passed. Most worksites are safe most are reasonably equiped.

As for contract conditions you are not forced to sign one so if you do not like it do not sign it.

From personnal experience rates are going up and there is a lot of new blood in the industry. The next 12 months will be hard going whilst all of the new trainees that are coming through get up to speed but then life for most guys offshore will be back to being all rosy except for the things we all complain about and will until the end of time.

Uni0ns may have advantages when disputing a point with a company or support when claiming after an accident but to be honest any half decent lawyer should be able to support you in the same way.

I think honestly the majority of guys who join the uni0n will do so to get more money and that is greed. For the amount of actual work we do we are well paid. We rarely risk our lives like divers do. We do not climb into a little chamber for weeks on end killing off the calcium in our bones like divers apparently do.

In fact most guys will if they are honest accross a full year would have to admit we do not really have to work that hard for the amount of cash we get.

I can almost hear the argument about being away from families and how that should be compensated in day rates but to anyone saying that I would suggest there are shorebased jobs you should look at.
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As a reminder. This is the open discussion board for Uni0n matters between non uni0n and uni0n members. It is visible to all website members.

For RMT members there is a discussion board restricted to members only. Normal ROVworld.com website members cannot even see the board, nor any discussions that take place within it, until they have verified their uni0n membership. It is not a closed shop.. anyone can join if they wish and equally, nobody is required to join.
James Mc
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So already there is an us and you thing going on. Members only anyone can join. It is rubbish.

For whatever the subscription to the uni0n is if you do not need the help off them it is a complete waste of money.

The oilc guy who has been posting is very eloquent in the way he words his description of the uni0n movement but then again I supose the days of Aurthur Scargill are past and eveyone speaks nicely now not shouting down mega phones at every opportunity.


I think that this will be my last post on this website that is how annoyed I am about the new two teer industry seems to be starting now.
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So will there be a seperate section on here for non uni0n members only? For members of Unite uni0n? Where do you draw the line?

I would not mix up an interest in a subject with the amount of reads a thread gets. Most people who regularly visit the site will read all threads just because there are new posts in them.

Norway has very good pay and conditions but is this purely down to the Uni0ns? Norway has a history of better conditions for its people in general.

I definately agree with using the Uni0n as an insurance policy for legal and health & safety backup.
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rayshields wrote:
………So will there be a seperate section on here for non uni0n members only? For members of Unite uni0n? Where do you draw the line?...........


The reason the private RMT/OILC Uni0n board has been set up is because OILC showed an interest in the ROV side of things and have yet to get their own branch/offshore energy website up and running. At present this is being looked into.
In the interim, as an RMT Uni0n member, I offered to create a temporary home for ROV RMT members to discuss Uni0n matters. I could see no mileage in leaving it an open board whereby discussions could be hijacked by non uni0n members including those against the uni0n idea in general. Should any other body/organisation have a temporary requirement we (website admin) would do the same for them if asked.

What did make sense was to leave an open board available for uni0n discussions so that non members and members alike could discus the merits of uni0n membership/ideas, as is happening here. For those that no longer wish to simply debate whether to become part of the RMT or not and have actually joined they can continue discussing things with other like minded uni0n members whom may well have similar viewpoint. Where is the sense in having an open board only whereby any members wishing to discuss uni0n matters run the risk of having to defend the basics of the uni0n concept, with non uni0n members, at each and every turn.

luckyjim37 wrote:
So already there is an us and you thing going on. Members only anyone can join. It is rubbish.

There is most certainly not an ‘us and you’ thing going on here but it seems that you might view it that way. If you are not interested in the Uni0n idea or are dead against it then fair enough but, because it happens not to suit your agenda, please don’t get all up in the air about those that choose to get involved in uni0n activities.
luckyjim37 wrote:

I think that this will be my last post on this website that is how annoyed I am about the new two teer industry seems to be starting now.


I don't quite get how a discussion about uni0ns, in one board on a website, would cause someone to consider that they are seeing a two tier industry beginning to evolve, jack their ‘website posting’ hand in and not be post on this site again but hey!.. it's supposed to be a free world so freedom of choice prevails. I wish you the best o luck. It was good having someone around to debate with and you are welcome back any time.


Why is ROVworld.com open to uni0n discussion?
This website is about the ROV industry as a whole. That means it tries to encompass many aspects of The ROV Subsea/Industry side of things. That’s an almost impossible task to fulfil but over the last eight years, or so, much devotion has been given to News, FAQ’s and thousands of other posts on all types of industry related topics. The site is not a Uni0n website but we (admin) most certainly accept the fact that the uni0na are in existence and will cater for that as much as we do for other areas of offshore and onshore ROV activities.

It’s a strange world. A while back one website member suggested something along the lines of: ‘This site is becoming management orientated in it’s approach and not being for the guys any more!’.
Now we are having a uni0n discussion and now we have one person hacked off about a two tear industry starting to form. I guess you can’t please all the people all the time.
James Mc
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KeyserSoze

Thanks for the encouragement.

My email address is oilc.secretary@gmail.com If you mail me here I can put you on a mailing list and let you have access to any info I have including the branch Bulletin, "Enough is Enough". The next edition will prominently feature ROV. If you do want to be on my mailing list could you(s) also tell me whether you're a member(s) or not (I'll still circulate non members with information but obviously I don't want to hit them with Branch meeting details and other uni0n only info)

There's been some discussion on here about a two tier ROV industry, and I thank the guys for their contributions. Well I guess that OILC/RMT members do have privaleges denied to non members. Free advice, legal and industrial representation that we provide our members, is worth having whether you decide to try and organise your sector or not. But let's face it - without widely recruiting amongst the 20,000 or so guys out there we won't be able to make the breakthrough that the Norwegians already have. So non uni0n members are not the enemy. They're potential members. And we're not in any doubt that there are some people who will never join a uni0n. But even then they will benefit from any gains that our members achieve. The holidays that are being awarded to our members and non members alike were largely won because of the years of struggle in the courts by OILC. And it was only our members agreeing to withdraw industrial tribunals against OCA employers (Offshore Construction Agreement) allowed UNITEAmicus (the sweetheart uni0n) to get an agreement on holidays with the OCA. But we're not against others getting these gains. Even the sorely misguided membership of UNITEAmicus (however small a band they may be) more than deserve to have the same holiday entitlement that every other worker in Europe has had for the last 10 years.

The botom line of all this is unity, and how we achieve it.

My ideas are easy to find on this site and in mails I send to those on my contact list. Or if you're a member you can come to a branch meeting and hear them being disected. But they are just my ideas, and will be subject to discussion (and possibly rejection) by RMT/OILC ROVers, The OILC Branch of RMT and our full time official, before anything happens. But I am strongly of the opinion that only "self organisation" has any merit. You need to find the means to get together (this site, an ROV ctte as part of the OILC Branch, whatever) and begin to seriously look at the agreements that Norwegian ROVers have, and that UK divers have. You have to decide what you want. Then you have to encourage the rest of your workmates to sign up to the uni0n.

We're not trying to steal your life and turn you into full time uni0n activists. We know how precious your free time is. We are offshore workers. But we also know that it will take some effort by the ROV guys if they want agreements to protect themserves. But a little effort by a lot of people is what uni0ns are about.

I'm hoping the relative silence that has followed my postings is a reflection of how seriously you guys are taking this. We'll see! But OILC have been here for 20 years already, and we joined forces with RMT to make sure it doesn't take another 20 years. We're not disapppearing any time soon. We have got time to properly consider these issues. But we have a window of opportunity at the moment and we should not sit on our hands.

I welcome the RMT members who have been transferring over to the OILC Branch. And I invite all ROVers to join the uni0n. We're stronger together.

neil
OILC Branch Secretary
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OILC_neil wrote:
The holidays that are being awarded to our members and non members alike were largely won because of the years of struggle in the courts by OILC. And it was only our members agreeing to withdraw industrial tribunals against OCA employers (Offshore Construction Agreement) allowed UNITEAmicus (the sweetheart uni0n) to get an agreement on holidays with the OCA. But we're not against others getting these gains. Even the sorely misguided membership of UNITEAmicus (however small a band they may be) more than deserve to have the same holiday entitlement that every other worker in Europe has had for the last 10 years.

The botom line of all this is unity, and how we achieve it.


You call for Unity - and heres you slagging off a fellow Uni0n? Unite (who are the biggest Uni0n in the UK) who have also worked towards obtaining workers rights, fair pay and paid holidays.

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