Len McCluskey calls for action to protect oil industry

Len McCluskey
Image caption Mr McCluskey was in Glasgow to launch his campaign to be re-elected as general secretary of Unite

The general secretary of the Unite union has called for the governments in both London and Edinburgh to do more to protect the UK's oil industry.

Len McCluskey said the North Sea should get the same help the banking sector received during the financial crisis.

The Scottish government said Westminster controls tax on oil and gas, and must take action.

The UK government said it has provided more than £2bn of support for the industry.

Mr McCluskey was speaking in Glasgow, at the launch of his campaign to be re-elected as general secretary of Unite.

He is facing a challenge to the post from rival Gerard Coyne. A third candidate, Ian Allinson, is also standing in the contest.

Mr Cluskey told BBC Scotland that greater support was needed for the oil sector following the collapse in the oil price.

He said: "Contrary to what people might say, there are billions and billions of tonnes of oil still in the North Sea.

"It is huge, huge asset and we've got to make certain that both the Scottish government and the Westminster government intervene, in the way that they did with the banks, to assist this vital sector."

The Scottish government has called on the government at Westminster to take action to encourage investment and protect jobs in the oil and gas industry.

A spokesman for the UK government's department of business, energy and industrial strategy said: "UK oil and gas remains an important part of our energy mix.

"We've already provided extensive assistance through a £2.3bn package of support, and committed £40m to new seismic studies to help uncover more opportunities and strengthen the North Sea's appeal to international investors as a global centre of excellence."

A Scottish government spokesman said: "We have consistently argued for the UK government, which has received over 30 years of tax receipts from the North Sea, to invest more and to provide the incentives needed to ensure future production and we will continue to do so.

"The Scottish government has invested £12m this year in the Transition Training Fund to support individuals and help the sector retain talent, and a further £12.5m to sustain growth and help Scottish firms compete internationally by developing new innovative technologies."

Speaking ahead of the Glasgow event, Mr McCluskey also called for urgent action to boost the economy.

He added: "From listening to our members, I know all too well that they want much more done to build this economy for tomorrow.

"That is why I am here to call for a co-ordinated shot-in-the-arm for the workers of this country.

"That must begin with urgent investment in the vital offshore sector to protect the tremendous wealth of skills and unleash the potential in this sector."

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