UK offshore staff ‘want public ownership of energy firms’
by AFP Staff Writers
London (AFP) March 6, 2023
Most workers on Britain’s offshore rigs want energy firms taken into public ownership to help fairly fund the transition to net zero, a survey showed Monday.
The poll, contained in a report by environmental campaigners and trade unions, quizzed more than 1,092 workers across the sector in England and Scotland.
The report, entitled “Our Power: Offshore Workers’ Demands for a Just Energy Transition”, was organised by Friends of the Earth and Platform, as well as unions GMB, RMT and Unite.
Some 92 percent of respondents were in favour of taking energy firms into public ownership, and 94 percent wanted a permanent windfall tax.
A majority also favoured the creation of a sovereign wealth fund to finance the transition away from dirty fossil fuels and toward cleaner energy.
And they wanted more government assistance to support new jobs in the renewables sector.
“Industry profiteering and government inaction has left us with soaring bills, declining working conditions and no plan for an energy transition,” added Platform campaigner Gabrielle Jeliazkov.
“In the midst of the climate and cost of living crises, offshore oil and gas workers have developed a way forward.”
The sector has long faced calls to step up efforts to transition away from fossil fuels as the world targets net-zero emissions by 2050.
At the same time, Britons face surging energy bills that have sparked a cost-of-living crisis.
Yet top oil and gas companies amassed record profits in 2022 after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine propelled prices higher.
“This report shines a light on the reality for workers in the oil and gas sector whose terms and conditions are being eroded at the same time as bosses make eye-watering profits,” said Scottish Trades Union Congress boss Roz Foyer.
“This research starts from the perspectives of workers — enabling them to identify their key demands and only then developing policy proposals that flow from these. The recommendations should be seriously considered by policy makers.”
In response, a UK government spokesman insisted that plans to decarbonise the oil and gas sector were “entirely just”.
Energy transition plans “supported tens of thousands of jobs” in the North Sea, the spokesperson added.