Energy Voice | North Sea automation should be about ‘education, not job losses’ says Danish union

Unite’s assistant general secretary has been told by his Danish counterpart to prepare for certain offshore jobs to be lost as automation comes through the industry.

Speaking at the Reflections on Piper Alpha safety conference in Aberdeen, Unite’s Tony Burke said “lots of jobs” are expected to be lost due to strides in robotics.

However, Danish union Dansk Metal OHS said the industry should be prepared for automation and the conversation should be on “education, not job losses.”

Asking about the potential for robotics in Denmark, Mr Burke said: “We anticipate lots of jobs will go because of digitalisation and robotics.”

In February, Unite, which is the UK’s largest offshore union, launched a campaign to protect workers’ jobs as the sector becomes more heavily reliant on automation.

DNV GL recently predicted the industry will fully implement autonomous drilling by 2025.

Jan Toft Rasmussen, Dansk Metal’s Secretary, said there needs to be a push to up-skill the workforce, but some jobs “will probably disappear”.

He said: “In my trade union we don’t consider discussions about automation to be about the loss of jobs, we consider this to be a discussion about education.

“Most of our members are skilled workers so they produce the robots, the automatic machinery, they are repairing them and they make sure reduction is running.

“They might be operators but most of those come from another union  – one of the biggest in Denmark -3F.

“Those are the guys who operate the machines, those jobs will probably disappear.

“So the discussion is can we get these members to be skilled workers. Can we get them into the technical schools again?

“This change of workforce, it doesn’t happen automatically. You have to push it.”

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