finance

Unite demands intervention over oil company’s mandatory vaccine rule



A union has called for government intervention after an offshore contractor is said to have introduced a “draconian” mandatory vaccine policy.

Canadian Natural Resources (CNR) International, which has offices in Aberdeen, is believed to be the first of any offshore contractor or operator to demand its workers are vaccinated before returning to work.

Unite the Union said it understands that no CNR employee is allowed to return to any of the company’s offshore platforms, including Ninian Central, Ninian South, and Tiffany in the North Sea, unless they have been vaccinated.

Contracting firms working on these platforms – including Petrofac, Aker, EnerMech, Bilfinger and Global E&C – are also not allowed to send staff unless they have had the Covid jags, the union said.

It is understood CNR will make exceptions from the policy for workers with verified medical or religious reasons against vaccination.

Unite has confirmed that it is looking at legal action against any company seeking to pursue a “jab or job” policy.

John Boland, industrial officer at the union, said: “Unite has now taken the step to demand intervention and support by the Scottish Government over CNR’s draconian measures.

“Our position is that we support workers getting the Covid-19 vaccination but we are strenuously opposed to any mandatory vaccination policy.”

Boland said other offshore contractors and operators have chosen not to pursue mandatory vaccinations but, instead, to focus on education and communication to boost vaccination take-up.

He said it is understood that similar drives by other firms have led to more than 80% of the offshore workforce being vaccinated.

“This position is supported by Oil and Gas UK, and to our knowledge no other operator or contractor has enforced such a policy,” he added.

“We will not hesitate to challenge any employer including CNR that disciplines or dismisses our members for exercising their right not to be vaccinated including the consideration of legal action.”

CNR and the Scottish Government have been approached for comment.

Numerous global energy companies, including CNR, faced Covid-19 outbreaks last year, as oil workers tend to work in close quarters for weeks at a time.

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