North Sea oil workers vote to strike over pay as oil giants operating rigs announce £146 billion profits 

20th March 2023, London – Oil giants that operate North Sea oil rigs, where over a thousand workers have today voted to strike over low pay, made an accumulative £146 billion in profit in 2022, according to Global Witness.  

The companies that own the rigs include BP and Shell, as well as France’s Total and China’s Sinopec, although the striking workers are employed by the rig servicing companies Bilfinger, Stork, Wood, and Petrofac.

According to Unite, the workers will strike over low pay – with inflation at 8.8 percent, workers at Bilfinger have been offered only 4 percent. 

Last month BP and Shell both announced record annual profits, making £23 billion and £33 billion respectively. Meanwhile their CEOs both enjoyed bumper pay packets, with Ben van Beurden of Shell taking home £9.7 million and Bernard Looney of BP earning £10 million last year.  

This news also comes after a coalition of offshore oil and gas workers, climate groups and trade unions, coordinated by Friends of the Earth Scotland and Platform, demanded an energy transition away from fossil fuels, that protects communities, the climate and jobs.  

Alexander Kirk, Fossil Fuels Campaigner at Global Witness, said: 

“The fossil fuel industry consistently justifies the harm it does to the environment and our climate with claims that it is a major creator of jobs and defender of workers. The shocking contrast between the low pay that UK oil workers receive and the immense salaries and bonusses handed to the CEOs of energy giants will hopefully put this lie to bed. We stand in full solidarity with striking rig workers and for a renewable energy transition that can provide jobs and security for all.” 

“While the oil and gas industry shamelessly boasts its commitment to good employment practices, the harsh reality is that oil rig workers have the UK's third most dangerous job. It’s infuriating to see these companies prioritize excessive executive rewards over the fair wages and safe working conditions that their employees rightfully deserve.” 

“It is absolutely essential that workers, communities and all those impacted are at the heart of the UK’s green transition. The fight for clean energy must also be a fight for good pay and proper working conditions. For decades fossil fuel companies have put their profits ahead of people and the planet. It’s time to do things differently.” 

A 2022 study found that oil rig workers have the UK’s third most dangerous job, behind only paramedics and firefighters. 

Note to Editors 

In addition to the 700 Bilfinger workers voting today to strike, decisions by workers with three other rig servicing companies – Stork, Wood Group, and Petrofac – were due today/workers with three other rig servicing companies – Stork, Wood, and Petrofac – also voted to strike. For information on these votes, visit