First unionized offshore oil workers

Offshore workers boost CEP numbers, CAW suffers from layoffs

Just as one union announced success in a hard-fought organizing drive, another says it is putting its organizing efforts on hold.

For the first time in Canada, oil workers on an offshore oil rig – the Hibernia oil platform off the coast of Newfoundland – have become unionized.

Success was a long time coming. The Communications, Energy and Paperworkers union (CEP) has been trying to bring union representation to the workers for four years.

The difficulty, according to union representatives, lay in the employer’s efforts to forestall union access to the workers. Labour board hearings on bargaining unit membership lasted 17 months alone.

CEP has vowed not to stop with the Hibernia project. It has put other offshore oil rig employers on notice that it plans to target their workers as well.

It expects that the process will be more efficient next time, due to round table discussions the Newfoundland government held regarding the delays associated with the Hibernia organizing campaign.

Meanwhile, the Canadian Auto Workers union (CAW) has announced that it will postpone organizing drives and cut its spending.

These measures are necessary, according to the union, because of increased member layoffs and corresponding decreases in dues income. As of the end of September, more than 10,000 CAW workers were affected by job-cutting plans.

For the time being, the CAW says that it will focus on serving its current members and assisting those who have lost their jobs.

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