How North Sea oil workers organised

May 19, 2013

The explosion on the Piper Alpha oil rig on 6 July 1988, in which 167 oil workers died, became the catalyst for a surge of rank-and-file workers’ organisation in the British sector of the North Sea oil field.

With the 25th anniversary of the Piper Alpha disaster approaching, People & Nature today publishes an interview with Neil Rothnie, a socialist activist who after Piper Alpha founded Blowout, a rank-and-file oil workers’ newspaper.

During a wave of strikes and occupations that followed the disaster, oil workers rejected conventional trade union methods and formed the Oil Industry Liason Committee (OILC), an organisation outside – and prepared to cross swords with – traditional trade union structures. Rothnie recalls these actions, and the impact they had both on workers’ lives and the way that the labour movement evolved.

Blowout is one of the best examples of a paper that gave voice to a workers’ movement from the grass roots up. For those interested in the history of labour movements in the energy sector, we have posted PDF versions of the first eight issues.

Readers who share my interest in how society will make the transition away from fossil fuels may wonder how labour movements among workers who  Read the rest of this entry »

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