The Stavanger committeeShuttle tanker Polytrader named and launched

Electricians threaten strike

person By Trude Meland, Norwegian Petroleum Museum
The first labour dispute with workers on Statfjord involved working time and the tour cycle. Thirty-eight Norwegian electricians threatened to strike for better tour arrangements and refused to go offshore to work on Statfjord A.
— Two electricians check a lifeboat control board on Statfjord A. Photo: Odd Noreger/Norwegian Petroleum Museum
© Norsk Oljemuseum

Brownaker, which had hired the men to do electrical outfitting on the platform, had introduced a new tour cycle which meant that workers spent 14 days offshore and then had 14 days free on land. The previous scheme was based on eight days at work and eight off.

Although the company had applied to the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate (NPD) on 30 December 1977 to introduce the 14-day cycle, this application had yet to be considered.[REMOVE]Fotnote: Aftenposten 13 January 1978. Statfjord-elektrikere vil ha 8-dagers turnus. 

Norway’s new Working Environment Act of 1977 included rules on working time. These specified that an eight-day tour cycle was the normal routine, but that certain companies could apply for up to 16 days and – in exceptional cases – as many as 32 days.

Electricians from the Elcon group[REMOVE]Fotnote: The partners in Elcon were Asea, Siemens, Stord Elektro, Sønnico and Nebb. reacted strongly to Brownaker’s new tour cycle. “The physical and mental strain on electricians arises because, in addition to tough working days, they have to share four-berth cabins – often with platform workers from the USA or Spain,” Helge Hammerseth, the union convenor at Asea, told Norway’s NTB wire service.

They also reacted over tendencies to make them do night work without this having been discussed with their union officials. At the urging of their union, electricians already on the platform refused to work nights.[REMOVE]Fotnote: Haugesunds Avis, 13 January 1978. “40 elektrikere blir hjemme, arbeidsordningen uholdbar”.

The threat to strike was successful and, after a tussle between the two sides, the eight-day tour cycle was reinstated.[REMOVE]Fotnote: Ny Tid. 19 January 1978. Streiketrussel ga seier.

Another stoppage was staged by the electricians on Statfjord A during 13 May 1978. For 12 hours, from 00.00 to 12.00, 160 of them downed tools in a demonstration against an agreement between the National Union of Electricians and Power Station Workers and the National Association of Electrical Installers on payment for shuttle traffic.

This was a wildcat strike, and the workers acted against the existing structure of elected officials and their own union to demand overtime payments for shuttling between the workplace and their living quarters while offshore.

The outcome of the union-management negotiations was that the electricians would get full overtime payment for the first hour of shuttle time, and then waiting and overtime pay. This meant an hourly reduction of 40 per cent, which the electricians on Statfjord A refused to accept.

In their view, the 1977 Working Environment Act clearly specified that shuttle time should be regarded as working hours, and noted that other groups on the platform were paid overtime for shuttle periods. It could take up to six hours per day to get to and from the worksites to the flotel by helicopter.

Shuttling was used only when the weather was so bad that the gangways linking the platform and the flotels had to be disconnected. That reduced rest time from 12 to six hours and represented a safety risk.[REMOVE]Fotnote: Bergens Tidende, 16 May 1978. Elektriker-streik på Statfjord A.

The Stavanger committeeShuttle tanker Polytrader named and launched
Published November 22, 2019   •   Updated December 9, 2019
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