Further to our previous bulletin updates in March and May of this year in relation to offshore workers, Union leaders have been successful in the preliminary stage of litigation in respect of holiday pay.
The Working Time Directive, adopted on health and safety grounds, came into force in 1998 and provides UK workers with the right to 4 weeks' paid annual leave as well as other rights in respect of working hours and rest breaks.
The challenge by the Unions came in June 2004 on behalf of nearly 300 offshore workers who typically worked two weeks on / two weeks off. Their claim related to the right to receive 4 weeks' paid leave under Regulation 13.
The preliminary hearing, heard in Aberdeen this week, related to the issue of jurisdiction. The tribunal was to decide the question of whether or not the Regulations apply to those employed outwith UK "territorial waters" (i.e. installations that are more than 12 miles offshore). Despite arguments to the contrary by employers in the oil and gas sector, the tribunal ruled that the Regulations do apply to installations outside British territorial waters.
The oil industry representatives are currently studying the ruling and further challenges are expected.
Jake Molloy of OILC (Offshore Industry Liasion Committee), who represent 120 of the employees, commented: "We are delighted, but this is the first battle in what could be a long and drawn out war".
Indeed this ruling represents only the first hurdle in respect of the employees' claim, their full case is yet to be heard.