North Sea strike action suspended for fresh talks
Industrial action by North Sea workers in a dispute over pay has been suspended to allow for fresh talks, the RMT union has said.
Both 48-hour and 24-hour strikes have already been held on seven Shell-operated platforms.
Further action was planned for later this month but has now been put on hold.
The RMT and Unite unions represent workers involved in the dispute with oil services company Wood Group.
A statement issued jointly by Wood Group, Unite and the RMT said the talks would start next week.
It read: "All parties recognise that the challenges we are facing in the North Sea are both real and serious and there is acceptance that change is required and will happen.
"These fresh talks will allow all parties to bring ideas to the table and provide opportunities for employees in particular, along with unions and management, to contribute to a mutually successful outcome and demonstrate leadership in shaping the future of the North Sea.
"We believe that this collaborative approach to addressing the challenging and well-publicised situation in the oil and gas sector is the best way for us to resolve this current dispute and contribute to creating a sustainable model for the North Sea.
"For these talks to be successful, it is essential to create a constructive environment in which they can take place.
"Wood Group has therefore agreed to stop the implementation of the current proposal for the duration of this fresh engagement and talks, and in response to this RMT and Unite have agreed to suspend any further strike action for the duration of this fresh engagement and talks."
Hundreds of offshore workers had been due to take action on the Curlew, Brent Alpha, Brent Bravo, Brent Charlie, Nelson, Gannet, Shearwater platforms.
A spokesperson for Shell said: "We welcome this development and encourage Wood Group's employees and management to continue their discussions in an effort to reach agreement."
The initial 24-hour strike on 26 July was the first industrial action of its kind in the North Sea in nearly 30 years and was followed by a 48-hour stoppage the following week.
Aberdeen-based Wood Group provides maintenance and construction to Shell and signed a three-year extension to its contract earlier this year.