A union chief has spoken of his hopes that a scheme can be set up to test oil and gas workers for Covid-19 before going offshore.
Jake Molloy, regional officer for RMT’s offshore branch, said that the union had been receiving a number of calls in recent weeks from concerned offshore workers, regarding both jobs and health.
Oil and gas workers are considered key workers under Scottish Government advice on coronavirus and, although those who can are working from home, offshore workers continue to go to platforms and ships as usual.
Mr Molloy said: “There’s two distinct aspects, the first is health for obvious reasons, as workers are going into confined spaces, and are travelling by helicopter. There’s only so much social distancing in that situation.
“The challenge now is to get all offshore tested here. If we could get a testing scheme running that would allow workers to be tested before they go offshore, protecting the health of the other workers.”
It is also thought that if workers are tested before going offshore, it will protect the public in the long run, as they won’t discover they have Covid-19 while offshore and then infect others by being brought home.
Mr Molloy added that other concerns were raised around jobs, and how many of the workers are now covered under the UK Government scheme.
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Meanwhile Unite has welcomed a new agreement to cover contractors working offshore.
The union has been working with the Offshore Contractors Association (OCA) and other trade unions to agree a Supplementary Project Agreement (SPA) to the Offshore Contractors Partnership Agreement (OCPA).
The agreement means that members at risk of redundancy or those who have recently been laid off can benefit from the UK Government coronavirus job retention scheme.
It will also protect those with underlying health conditions who have been told to self-isolate.
At present, there are eight major oil companies part of the OCA, including Aker Solutions, Altrad, Brand, Muilhlhan, Petrofac, Stork, Wood Group and Worley.
Unite regional industrial officer, John Boland, said: “The new agreement will bring relief to many of our members who were facing a very uncertain future, and will secure a workforce ready for when we overcome this pandemic.
“Unite offshore members are used to overcoming difficulties, and with the support of their union they will overcome this period, and be stronger for it.”