Salamis Slavery

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Life as as slave

Now that I have retired I get plenty of time to think about the past. It amazes me that I spent thirty years in the North Sea, the last fourteen as a slave (not employee) to Salamis. Honestly, when I think of some of the strokes they tried to pull it is almost beyond belief. Here are a few of them to amuse and amaze you. On a particular rig the OIM was one of those rare and endangered species ‑ a nice guy. The job we were sent out to do had been completed a week early and he called us in and told us that we would be going home a week early, but we would not lose any money. He showed us the timesheets and fax he had sent clearly instructing Salamis of this.

Well as you can probably guess, when the wages went in the bank we had been paid half rig rate for the week. On phoning the office I listened to the project manager explaining to me that he had actually done me a favour paying me half of what I was due! How wonderful of him! What a gentleman, ass! Who do they think they're talking to, someone who doesn't understand English and knows what was promised? Anyway after thanking him profusely I told him that I would check it out with the union. Funny enough the other half of my wages were paid the following week!

Or what about the lady (and I use the term loosely) who informed me that my regular crew change day was now a Saturday. So on a 2 and 2 basis, I would have one Saturday per month at home. The reason given for this was that the operator had found out that Saturday choppers were cheaper! On inquiring if any of the operators personnel would be crew changing on a Saturday also, I was told no. So again I declined their kind offer despite threats of dismissal for not fulfilling my terms and conditions (kettle and pot come to mind here) but magically once again the threat of bringing in the union was enough to take this nonsense out of her head.

And if you are still interested, sitting dumbstruck and amazed, what about the time £75 disappeared from my wages. I had a mole in the Petrofac office who let me know when and how much the Ninian Fields bonus was that year. Lo and behold when the bonus was paid it was £75 quid short. On enquiring about this and after being passed from one eejit to another, I was finally told that it was for administration costs. Very good I said, but surely it is illegal to deduct money from your wages without showing it on your payslip? Don't know says the voice on the phone; unethical then I said, to which "possibly" was the mumbled reply.

Anyway, I said, when am I getting my £75 quid back? But 'why' said the now dumbstruck logistics person? Because if you don't 1 will be going to the union and let their lawyers assess if you have been acting illegally? Well, says this now panicked numpty, if I was to have this money refunded to you would you promise not to tell anyone else in the Ninian Field about it? I replied of course not, this is a private conversation and not a word of it will be repeated, I told the now deranged caller. And not a word was said, I wrote it! I sent e‑mails to other Ninian personnel once I had my £75 quid, but the point of the story is that when you are dealing with the likes of Salamis you must have something to threaten them with. Alone you stand no chance and more often or not the threat of bringing in the union will be enough. But you must be able to back the threat up, believe me if they think it is an empty threat they will take their revenge ‑ probably temporary lay‑off.

You are dealing with people who will never be short of a couple of bob at Christmas, all they have to do is get their little asses down to the Kings Theatre and get parts in 'Ali‑baba and the 40 thieves!' Honestly, no auditions would be required, just be themselves! Well I hope you enjoyed my stories part 2 in the next edition. It's a pleasure to at last sign my name without fear of reprisals.

John Lafferty ex‑scaff, ex‑slave, ex‑dogsbody, but still a trade unionist.

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