Trade Union Demands Clarity From Labour Over Halting New Oil and Gas Production

Trade union Unite called on Sir Keir Starmer to clarify that workers will not pay the price should any plan to block new North Sea oil and gas developments be announced by the Labour Party. Unite General Secretary Sharon Graham said on Wednesday that tens of thousands of workers in North Sea and supporting industries should be able to keep their jobs if Labour confirms plans to halt new oil and gas production. Her comments come amid reports that Starmer will set out his net zero energy policy when he launches his latest “national mission” in Scotland next month. “When Keir Starmer decided to let the world know that he would halt new oil and gas production in the North Sea he left out everything that was important—the detail. Labour must now be very clear that they will not let workers pay the price for the transition to renewable energy. When it comes to jobs we can’t have jam tomorrow,” said Graham. The Unite boss called for a “worker-led transition” that would guarantee decent jobs for all involved with no loss of pay and conditions, substantial investment, as well as public ownership and democratic control of the energy industry. She warned against a repeat of the impact the mass closure of the coal mining industry in the UK had on the workers in the second half of the last century. Labour should elaborate on its plans on North Sea oil and gas developments, said Graham, asking for more detail from Starmer. “Grabbing the headlines is easy, developing a serious plan for more renewable energy is not,” the Unite chief said. Labour will outline plans to invest in green jobs and “create a more sustainable energy supply,” shadow work and pensions secretary Jonathan Ashworth told Sky News. “We’ll be outlining that in a significant mission in the coming weeks and we’ll be announcing more details then,” Ashworth added. Labour’s Green Prosperity Plan aims to deliver “clean, homegrown onshore, offshore, solar, tidal, nuclear and hydrogen so that we can get to net zero quicker and end our reliance on fossil fuel dictators around the world.” Labour Party leader Sir Keir Starmer delivers a speech at the office of UK Finance in central London, on Feb. 27, 2023. (Stefan Rousseau/PA Media) ‘Broken Promises’ The North Sea Transition Authority recently held a licensing round for oil and gas exploration projects which attracted more than 100 bids. Conservative MP Jacob Rees-Mog, who has previously argued it was greener to produce gas domestically than to import it from abroad, said on Wednesday that Britain needs “cheap gas for years to come.” Shutting down Britain’s gas and oil production and replacing it with imports is not something that Britons will accept, argued David Whitehouse, chief executive of the trade association Offshore Energies UK. “Everyone is clear that the energy system must change but business and government must do this in partnership. Labour’s approach risks sending the wrong signals. Labour’s proposals are also very unclear, especially on costs. Our sector now needs clarity on the detail of Labour’s plans including analysis on what they mean for jobs, energy security, imports, and Britain’s overall economy,” Whitehouse said in a statement. Scottish Conservatives called Starmer’s plan for the sector “nothing short of a gut punch to the tens of thousands of Scots who rely on the industry for work.” “Labour’s commitment to ban new oil and gas development recklessly puts over 90,000 Scottish jobs at risk and could devastate communities in the North East. The Scottish Tories are the only party willing to stand up for Scotland’s oil and gas workers,” the party said on Twitter. Earlier this year, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak backed new oil and gas exploration. Natural gas is part of Britain’s transition to net zero, Sunak told a press conference in February. “And in the process of getting from here to there, if we can get investment in the North Sea that supports British jobs, that’s a good thing. So that has to be part of the mix as well,” Sunak said. Utilising Britain’s North Sea reserves where needed and powering ahead with British innovation in renewables will safeguard the UK’s national strategy, according to Energy Secretary Grant Shapps. His Labour counterpart accused the Conservatives of making Britain more dependent on fossil fuels and blocking cheap renewables. Shadow secretary of state for climate change Ed Miliband argued that Labour has a plan to cut bills for good through delivering clean power by 2030. “This will make the UK an energy superpower, creating thousands of good jobs, providing real energy security with homegrown clean power, and showing the climate leadership our country wants,” Miliband said on Wednesday. However, Unite has warned that “Britain’s recent economic history is littered with political betrayals and broken promises that have left industrial workers on the scrap heap.” Graham said Unite was developing its own plan for “just transition in the North

Trade Union Demands Clarity From Labour Over Halting New Oil and Gas Production

Trade union Unite called on Sir Keir Starmer to clarify that workers will not pay the price should any plan to block new North Sea oil and gas developments be announced by the Labour Party.

Unite General Secretary Sharon Graham said on Wednesday that tens of thousands of workers in North Sea and supporting industries should be able to keep their jobs if Labour confirms plans to halt new oil and gas production.

Her comments come amid reports that Starmer will set out his net zero energy policy when he launches his latest “national mission” in Scotland next month.

“When Keir Starmer decided to let the world know that he would halt new oil and gas production in the North Sea he left out everything that was important—the detail. Labour must now be very clear that they will not let workers pay the price for the transition to renewable energy. When it comes to jobs we can’t have jam tomorrow,” said Graham.

The Unite boss called for a “worker-led transition” that would guarantee decent jobs for all involved with no loss of pay and conditions, substantial investment, as well as public ownership and democratic control of the energy industry.

She warned against a repeat of the impact the mass closure of the coal mining industry in the UK had on the workers in the second half of the last century. Labour should elaborate on its plans on North Sea oil and gas developments, said Graham, asking for more detail from Starmer.

“Grabbing the headlines is easy, developing a serious plan for more renewable energy is not,” the Unite chief said.

Labour will outline plans to invest in green jobs and “create a more sustainable energy supply,” shadow work and pensions secretary Jonathan Ashworth told Sky News.

“We’ll be outlining that in a significant mission in the coming weeks and we’ll be announcing more details then,” Ashworth added.

Labour’s Green Prosperity Plan aims to deliver “clean, homegrown onshore, offshore, solar, tidal, nuclear and hydrogen so that we can get to net zero quicker and end our reliance on fossil fuel dictators around the world.”

Epoch Times Photo
Labour Party leader Sir Keir Starmer delivers a speech at the office of UK Finance in central London, on Feb. 27, 2023. (Stefan Rousseau/PA Media)

‘Broken Promises’

The North Sea Transition Authority recently held a licensing round for oil and gas exploration projects which attracted more than 100 bids.

Conservative MP Jacob Rees-Mog, who has previously argued it was greener to produce gas domestically than to import it from abroad, said on Wednesday that Britain needs “cheap gas for years to come.”

Shutting down Britain’s gas and oil production and replacing it with imports is not something that Britons will accept, argued David Whitehouse, chief executive of the trade association Offshore Energies UK.

“Everyone is clear that the energy system must change but business and government must do this in partnership. Labour’s approach risks sending the wrong signals. Labour’s proposals are also very unclear, especially on costs. Our sector now needs clarity on the detail of Labour’s plans including analysis on what they mean for jobs, energy security, imports, and Britain’s overall economy,” Whitehouse said in a statement.

Scottish Conservatives called Starmer’s plan for the sector “nothing short of a gut punch to the tens of thousands of Scots who rely on the industry for work.”

“Labour’s commitment to ban new oil and gas development recklessly puts over 90,000 Scottish jobs at risk and could devastate communities in the North East. The Scottish Tories are the only party willing to stand up for Scotland’s oil and gas workers,” the party said on Twitter.

Earlier this year, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak backed new oil and gas exploration. Natural gas is part of Britain’s transition to net zero, Sunak told a press conference in February.

“And in the process of getting from here to there, if we can get investment in the North Sea that supports British jobs, that’s a good thing. So that has to be part of the mix as well,” Sunak said.

Utilising Britain’s North Sea reserves where needed and powering ahead with British innovation in renewables will safeguard the UK’s national strategy, according to Energy Secretary Grant Shapps.

His Labour counterpart accused the Conservatives of making Britain more dependent on fossil fuels and blocking cheap renewables.

Shadow secretary of state for climate change Ed Miliband argued that Labour has a plan to cut bills for good through delivering clean power by 2030.

“This will make the UK an energy superpower, creating thousands of good jobs, providing real energy security with homegrown clean power, and showing the climate leadership our country wants,” Miliband said on Wednesday.

However, Unite has warned that “Britain’s recent economic history is littered with political betrayals and broken promises that have left industrial workers on the scrap heap.”

Graham said Unite was developing its own plan for “just transition in the North Sea.”