Labour needs a properly funded plan for the North Sea and North Sea workers.

Unite will not accept jam tomorrow

2 Jun 2023| News

Commenting on Labour’s plans to block all new North Sea oil and gas projects, Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “Grabbing the headlines is easy, developing a serious plan for more renewable energy is not.”

The proposals, which the Labour leader, Keir Starmer, is expected to set out formally on a visit to Scotland next month, will involve not just a ban on new North Sea oil and gas licences, but a pledge that any borrowing for investment should be limited to green schemes.

A party source said:

“We are against the granting of new licences for oil and gas in the North Sea. They will do nothing to cut bills as the Tories have acknowledged; they undermine our energy security and would drive a coach and horse through our climate targets.

But Labour would continue to use existing oil and gas wells over the coming decades and manage them sustainably as we transform the UK into a clean energy superpower.”

Sharon Graham continued:

“When Keir Starmer decided to let the world know that he would halt new oil and gas production in the North Sea he left out everything that was important – the detail.

Labour must now be very clear that they will not let workers pay the price for the transition to renewable energy. When it comes to jobs we can’t have jam tomorrow.

We need a worker-led transition through collective bargaining that will guarantee jobs, pay and conditions for all the tens of thousands of workers in North Sea and supporting industries.

We cannot have a repeat of the devastation wrought on workers and their communities by the closure of the coal mines. It is reckless in the extreme to talk about halting this industry without offering a coherent, fully funded plan for jobs.

A workers’ transition plan for the North Sea must involve three things. First, it needs to put workers in the industry, and their communities, front and centre. It must be carried out with their full involvement, and guarantee decent jobs for all involved with no loss of pay and conditions.

Second, it will require substantial investment. We have yet to see Labour, or any political party, commit to the serious amounts that will be needed.

Finally, to ensure a just transition actually happens, we are calling for public ownership and democratic control of the energy industry. We cannot trust the private sector, whose only concern is squeezing every last drop of profit out of the UK’s remaining oil and gas reserves, to deliver for workers and communities.

Britain’s recent economic history is littered with political betrayals and broken promises that have left industrial workers on the scrap heap. That is why workers need to take charge of their own destiny. At Unite we are developing our own plan for just transition in the North Sea, which will take seriously the challenges we face and put workers at the heart of the process.”