In March, Stockton North MP Alex Cunningham joined with offshore workers’ union RMT to demand government action to save workers’ jobs from the devastating effects of COVID-19. Alex wrote to the Health and Safety Executive requesting action be taken to ensure social distancing guidance be adhered to alongside other mentions to prevent the increases in the Covid-19 infection rates.
It is now weeks into this pandemic, and the UK’s offshore workers are still waiting for full guidance. The government are not acting fast enough. A survey carried out by the RMT this month found that 43% of workers have not been issued with any PPE and only 15% would be entitled to full sick pay if they contract COVID-19 or are required to self-isolate.
“It is completely unsatisfactory that the Government have failed to come up with a full response to the question I asked of them a month ago. We are in the midst of a national crisis, action must be swift if we are to save people’s lives. This is an extremely infectious virus, and could spread like wildfire through an offshore platform due to the large number of workers required to stay in such limited living space.
The offshore workers who live in my constituency of Stockton North and the wider Teesside area deserve a proper response. The governments refusal to engage or to meet with union leaders to try and come to a solution leaves me unconvinced the Government fully grasps the plight of offshore workers.
Hopefully the Government will provide full guidance for offshore workers shortly, but this should have happened weeks ago. Offshore workers have been identified as essential, the least they should be offered is safety as they work.”