UK offshore industry statement: Working Time DirectiveNews // July 4, 2003
"Working offshore is quite different from what most people would understand as a "normal" onshore nine-to five job," said Bill Murray, chief executive of the Offshore Contractors Association.
"The demands of the offshore location and the nature of the job itself mean that oil and gas production workers will typically work a four week cycle spending a fortnight on the platforms followed by two weeks off, although there are a number of variations to cycles worked."This means that over the year offshore workers work on average a total of 26 weeks, with the remaining 26 weeks spent at home on paid rest leave, with the typical annual earnings for a qualified technician being £40,000. The Industry believes that the current work cycles therefore accommodate four weeks annual leave and that, moreover, the total number of hours worked offshore is well within the maximum permitted by the European directive."
There is no evidence whatsoever to indicate that the Working Time Directive is a safety issue offshore. The offshore industry is extensively regulated and this includes management of working hours. Safety issues within the offshore oil and gas industry are already (and have been since 1997) the sole purpose of the Step Change in Safety initiative, of which Amicus is a member, as is the Health and Safety Executive.
Following the introduction of the Working Time Directive in 1993, the EU subsequently decided to include previously "excluded sectors" within the Directive through amending legislation passed in June 2000. The UK is committed to introducing the legislation into law by August 2003, as required.
The amended Directive takes account of the special working arrangements of the originally "excluded sectors", which include the offshore oil and gas industry. In the UK, the Department of Trade and Industry is responsible for the legislation.
On 31 October 2002, the DTI published its Consultation Paper on the draft Regulations to implement the Horizontal Amending Directive on Working Time to previously excluded sectors. The Trade Associations representing various parts of the offshore industry - UKOOA, IADC, WSCA IMCA, OCA and COTA -responded collectively to the DTI Consultation Document regarding the implementation of the Directive. The consultation closed on 31 January 2003.