COP26 in Glasgow now seems so long ago. It didn’t deliver much. But one pledge to be welcomed and committed to by both Scottish and UK Governments was for a “Just Transition”.
That’s described as job security in industries that’ll play the biggest part in the transition. That clearly applies to the offshore oil and gas sector where although new fields have been committed too, there’s a recognition that it’s limited and temporary. The future’s renewables.
So all should be well you’d think for workers in the North Sea moving now or in the future from being employed in the oil and gas fields, to working in the offshore wind sector. They can simply move over into the new fields, especially as their large corporate employers shift their investment from the old to the new energy resource.
But disgracefully there’s no “Just Transition” for them as rights that apply onshore and, in the oil, and gas sector are denied them in the new sector. Yet from the shores of East Lothian we can already see the developments in the Firth and many more will be happening further out at sea. As our communities are being denied cash windfalls from the offshore source, our workers face exploitation and abuse.
Outwith the 12 mile UK territorial waters there’s a legislative gap and yet most turbines will be that distance or more from land. I’ve written about the disgraceful situation in a windfarm, where the energy’s landing in East Lothian, yet where UK seafarers were laid off and replaced by cheap labour from South Asia. That happened as minimum wage laws don’t apply.
Now a tragedy which saw a seafarer lost 98 miles from Aberdeen shows that Health and Safety also doesn’t apply in many aspects. HSE don’t have jurisdiction. Instead, it’s the responsibility of the country where the ships registered. In this case, as it will be in many others, that’s Liberia. That’s absurd and certainly not a Just Transition.
Our country should getting the wealth of this resource and our workers have the same rights that applied in oil and gas.