«We’re doing everything we can to improve the corona situation for our members»

“West Bollsta” is one of several rigs were Industri Energi has many British members. Photo: Atle Espen Helgesen
“West Bollsta” is one of several rigs were Industri Energi has many British members. Photo: Atle Espen Helgesen

lørdag 6. februar 2021

The Corona situation, infection control and the many restrictions combined, makes for a very demanding situation for our members. Deputy leader in Industri Energi Lill-Heidi Bakkerud says «We want you to know that we are doing everything in our power to improve the situation for you».

«We know about the challenges our members are facing in this situation. We are hearing a lot of testimonies and concerning tales that emphasize the serious nature of the situation. Long periods in quarantine, with limited freedom and social contact on the offshore installations, risk of infection under transport and so on, makes this a difficult situation for many people. Industri Energi is in close contact with shop stewards and safety representatives in companies with members facing this situation».

Lill-Heidi Bakkerud says that shop stewards, club leaders, safety representatives, employees and leaders in Industri Energi are working hard to improve the situation.

She elaborates that the union has members living outside of Norway who haven`t seen their families, almost at all, the last year because they are continuously in quarantine or at work offshore. We are also hearing about complications concerning parents with joint custody and quarantine in addition to the work period.

«This is not a situation people can endure over time» Bakkerud says.

Concerned about the psychosocial situation

Industri Energi is especially concerned about mental health issues after what soon amounts to one year with comprehensive restrictions.

«We`re concerned about the influence on safety, work environment, and people`s mental health» she says.

Industri Energi will establish contact with the county doctor in Rogaland (Fylkeslegen), who has a national role in cases concerning health in the petroleum industry on the Norwegian continental shelf.

«In addition to this, we will address our concern about issues around mental health with the Petroleum Safety Authority. They are also increasing their supervision activies concerning the consequences of Covid-19» Bakkerud says.

Frequent contact with employers

Lill-Heidi Bakkerud, deputy leader in Industri Energi.
Lill-Heidi Bakkerud, deputy leader in Industri Energi.

Industri Energi have frequent meetings with the employer`s union Norwegian Oil an Gas and the Norwegian Seafarers Association, in addition to different companies, to explain our member`s experiences with the restrictions, and to contribute to improving the conditions for the employees. Especially, we are stressing the need for the companies to agree on same practice within corona rules.

«We can`t live with the current situation where different companies have all kinds of different practices. For employees in contractor companies for instance, it`s especially difficult when exposed to different testing- and quarantine regimes depending on which company you work under» Bakkerud says.

«We have spoken to the employer`s unions and the companies about this a number of times. Both because it`s challenging to create legitimacy for the different routines for infection control, and because it is demanding for the contractor employees to constantly adhere to different restrictions and measures. We are doing our best to influence, and we are being heard, but in the end, it is up to each operating company`s responsibility to make the decision. This cooperation is not without difficulties».

Industri Energi has regular contact with the Petroleum Safety Authorities, Labour inspection authorities, health authorities and so on during the length of the Corona crisis. We have also established a Covid-19 task force consisting of employees from Industri Energi, elected leadership, union representatives and safety representatives from different parts of the industry.

Corona pandemi is on the agenda for the different meeting points we are a part of, such as Safety Forum, Cooperation for Safety and LO’s Helicopter committee.

Frode Alfheim also emphasized the importance of the Norwegian model for cooperation in this situation, in a meeting on January 28th, with the Minster of Petroleum and Energy, Tina Bru. He also emphasized that we have to have especial consideration for employees in this demanding situation.

Industri Energi has yet to reach an agreement with the employers unions when it comes to compensation for those who have to endure the hotel quarantine.

-We have made our opinion clear in this matter; the time in quarantine needs to be compensated. The hotel quarantine is not a vacation stay. The people staying in quarantine are staying there in their earned leave periods. The employers disagree, so we have sent a formal dispute . The dispute is now being handled by LO, and they have some of the best workers law experts on the case.

A demanding situation for everybody

Industri Energi will keep on doing everything we can to decrease the toll this situation takes on our members, as well as seeing to it that correct measures are taken in relation to infection control.

«The corona pandemic is a demanding situation for all of us. It intrudes in everyone’s lives, both work life and personal life. No one disagrees that strong measures have to be made, but one has to take special considerations concerning industries where members are away from their families and friends for long periods» Bakkerud says.

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