Offshore oil workers need strong unions
VANCOUVER (October 19, 2010) -- Without strong unions and a voice for workers there won't be acceptable safety and environmental standards for offshore oil drilling, CEP told an international conference of regulators this week in Vancouver.
In the photo above, CEP's delegation to the International Offshore Oil Regulators Conference in Vancouver included HSIRTF Director Walter Manning (left), CEP Atlantic VP Chuck Shewfelt (far right), and Kevin Kelly, President of CEP Local 2121, representing Atlantic offshore oil workers. CEP also hosted the Norwegian Offshore Oil Union, Industri-Energie, at the Conference. IE's Chief Safety Officer, Ketil Karlsen, (second left) led their delegation.
CEP Health Safety and Industrial Relations Training Fund Director Walter Manning spoke to several hundred regulators and oil company officials from the global offshore oil industry, in Vancouver, Oct. 19.
"I think we opened up a few eyes here this afternoon," Manning said after his presentation. "I stressed that they can't expect workers to feel safe speaking up if unions are not accepted by the employers and part of the safety system. I told the oil industry people that if I showed up on some of their sites, they would launch an all out campaign to get rid of me. That approach to working with unions must change if we hope to avoid tragedies like the Deep Water Horizon explosion."
Manning also told the conference that regulatory bodies like the Canada-Newfoundland Offshore Petroleum Board, which regulates offshore oil drilling on Canada's east coast, must separate their mandates for safety and the environment from economic development.
The union argued at the Wells inquiry into the Cougar helicopter crash that economic considerations influenced the regulators and companies to allow safety equipment and procedures that were less than the best available.