Win — But Lose!

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Get covered ‑ or you're on your own!

0ver the last few months the Offshore Energy Branch has seen a rapid increase in the number of phone calls we're getting from nonmembers looking for representation at disciplinary and grievance hearings. Some of these non‑members have been working in the offshore oil and gas industry for a long time, in a couple of cases I've dealt with the workers had 12, 20 and in one case, 30 years in the industry!

As the Branch Secretary I try to advise these non‑members as best I can, but ADVICE is the only thing that we can give. We cannot represent these nonmembers with their individual cases. Usually these non‑members ask if they can join the Union on the day, thinking if they join there and then they'll get the help they so desperately need. Sorry, but unfortunately this is not the case. The RMT/OILC officials are bound by union rules which are very clear; we CANNOT represent any non‑member retrospectively. In other words if something happens at work, and you end up getting disciplined or worse still seriously hurt as a result and you were not a member at that time it happened, we CANNOT help you. We would be using our members' money to help someone who has never contributed a penny! Like I say ‑ sorry.

When I ask these long term offshore workers why they haven't joined the Union before now, the most common answer I get is; "I didn't think I needed a union", with the next line being, "I've never been in trouble before". My response to that is, well you're in trouble now mate and it's a bit cheeky to come round banging my door after the event, especially when our members are working around you and their money is being used to fight for improvements and protections that you will benefit from! I personally think it is totally unacceptable and I find myself shaking my head in disbelief when I'm talking to these people.

RMT/OILC is not a charity, we're not a citizens advice bureau, and I'm not some 'agony aunt' here to help you out with your troubles! We are a group of determined workers formed into a Trade Union that is fighting against ruthless employers in the oil and gas industry on a daily basis, with the aim of protecting our members and improving their lot. That's what our members pay their Union contributions for. There's also a multitude of benefits that RMT/OILC members can gain through joining our organisation, these are listed on the back of our publications, and on our website.

There are a lot of offshore workers who need to start looking at themselves and how they or their families would cope if trouble hits. It's no good thinking that RMT/OILC is here and we can bail you out of a sticky situation when the time comes by turning up on the day and paying your first ever contribution, WE CAN'T.

There's a few things in life that we protect through the use of insurance policies; we protect our home from fire and theft; we insure our cars for the same reason; most if not all of us have the inevitable life insurance in case of any unforeseen circumstances; others have things like dental plans in case of potential emergency dental treatment, which 'might' be needed. So why oh why

do offshore workers not protect themselves from some of the most ruthless employers that exist on the planet? Some of them have reputations that wouldn't have been out of place in the 18th century!

There's a lot of offshore workers who need to wake up. You're paying good money to protect everything you've got from your house to your teeth, but what would happen if you couldn't pay for that protection? What would happen if you got the sack, or worse still you were disabled or killed? Sure you could get a lawyer; I had a lad in recently (nonmember) who had just paid £300 for a lawyer to write him a letter! That letter was just for his dismissal appeal, his case hadn't started yet, and that's why he was at our door. Or you could try "no win‑no fee" but what this should be called is ‑ if you win, there's a big fee! In most cases you'll lose around 25% of anything you recover. We recovered over £100,000 for a member recently, he received every penny, but if he'd gone "no‑win no‑fee" he would have around £25,000 deducted!

The monthly Union subscription fee is £16.20 and for most that's roughly one hours pay from the average 168 hours you work and get paid every month. If you go it alone in the oil and gas industry you are taking a huge risk. Don't think that nothing will ever happen, you are only one mistake away from getting hurt or getting the sack. Why risk it when you're just one hours pay away from getting the best protection that 1‑hour of work could ever pay for?

Protect yourself today, join RMT/OILC.
Branch Secretary

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