There are usually three ways we can go, in attempt to move the Hydraulics up in a higher salary group:
The employment committee, local negotiations, and the main salary negotiations.
In addition, at the main negotiations in 2022, however, we did open for a fourth option, which is the committee work that was adopted during the mediation. (More on that below)
We have already been in the "Positions committee" with the matter, we have tried local negotiations several times, and we have tried through the main negotiations several times, but unfortunately, we have met equal resistance everywhere.
We are therefore making this update on what we have done, and what we can do in the future.
At the same time, we also want to explain why it has not been successful, even though we have given this matter a very high priority for a very long time.
NAF was in the position committee in December 2020, to try to convince the committee that the Hydraulics should move up in a higher salary group. We teamed up with the SAIPEM club to appear stronger.
We have previously submitted a joint and a very detailed report with our well-documented arguments which, among other things, contained the following points:
Greater requirements for competence.
Greater requirements for education - CETOP-II course, with more.
(NAF previously pushed very hard for the CETOP-II course to be included in the course matrix, to increase the required level of competence)
Comparison with other positions with the same responsibility and the same requirements for competence.
Far greater responsibility, especially regarding safety-related equipment.
And the very important fact that the Hydraulics are always standing alone with the challenges, and thus also alone with the responsibility.
(For more details on requirements for competence and responsibility, read further down)
However, no matter how good and how strong arguments we pushed into the case the committee already made it clear to us at the start of the meeting, that they would not approve to move up any position for an already fixed tariffed position.
In other words, if the job committee is to approve this, then we must come up with a completely new job description that proves that this new position has work areas that are completely outside of what can be expected from a hydraulic position. So not just a new title.
This cannot be done unless we do it in cooperation with the company, and they have repeatedly said clearly no to that.
It has also not been possible for us to be able to compare our Hydraulics position with an already higher ranked position such as e.g., a Subsea Engineer.
- Local negotiations with the company
Here it’s only possible to negotiate a salary increase for a job position if it has already been approved in advance by the position committee.
For example, when we negotiated the position of Operator Drilling up to salary group A, the position committee had already approved it in advance.
The company can invent new positions such as Operator Technical and Engine Mech, but this must be assessed and determined through the positions committee before we can negotiate locally.
The problem is that the company has completely refused to cooperate with us to create a new position for the Hydraulics, and therefore we do not have the option of going back to the position committee.
We have thus run into a solid concrete wall, both in terms of local negotiations and the positions committee.
A form of a compromising solution could also be to negotiate a competence allowance for the Hydraulics. After all, it would be better than nothing, but the company has completely rejected this.
- NR - Main salary negotiations. (NR = Norwegian Shipowners Association)
We have already given this case a very high priority every time at the last five main negotiations, but we have not been able to obtain a majority among the delegates.
That's why we previously before the main negotiations in 2020, tried through NR-forum to create an alliance to get more clubs to vote for our proposal to raise the wages of the Hydraulics. But only the SAIPEM club was particularly interested in participating in this.
A few other local clubs used as their main argument for not supporting this, that they found it difficult to defend it against their Mechanics, who are still in pay group C. And furthermore, they have their own cases to promote.
Our case therefore again failed to obtain a majority among the delegates.
It seems quite clear that it’s us in Noble Drilling who face the biggest challenges, because we are the only ones with all other job positions in the technical department placed in minimum salary group A.
We are of course pleased that we have succeeded in getting so many technical positions up in higher salary groups, but of course it also makes the feeling of discrimination and injustice even greater for the Hydraulics. We truly understand this.
At the last Annual Meeting in 2022, it was decided that we should once again prioritize Hydraulics as our highest priority in the main negotiations, if it became possible to get any raises. But unfortunately, there we did not get any positions lifted at all, and we learned again that most other clubs do not have higher salaries for the Hydraulics at the top of their agenda.
There were 17 individual demands for raising different job positions in 2022.
Therefore, it was decided that a working committee should be set up to assess the salary system and salary group placement considering responsibility, competence, and qualification requirements.
This was written into the minutes of the main negotiations 2022:
Committee work adopted during the mediation in June 2022 (item 18)
Pay System Review Committee
The parties have discussed the organizations' requirements regarding skill additions and promotion of individual job categories, as well as a review of the exceptions for individually paid employees and categories of minimum wage rates. It has been agreed to set up a committee with representatives from NR, DSO, SAFE and Industri Energi which will assess the salary system and salary group placement considering responsibility, competence and qualification requirements seen in the light of developments since the previous job placement committee. The committee must also review exemptions and the system for individually paid employees.
The committee must issue a recommendation to the parties by the end of 2023 with a view to implementing any changes in the main settlement in 2024.
Greater requirements for competence:
- Here is a partial extract of the case which was sent to the positions committee and which we also used in attempts at the local negotiations.
It is expected that the Hydraulic Technician has, or acquires, the necessary competence on all hydraulic systems on board. This is a knowledge of specialized offshore equipment that is far beyond what is required to pass the normal certificate for the Hydraulics.
This necessary acquisition of competence must be done partly by courses/further training and partly with self-studies on board. At the same time, the technology on new types of drilling rigs has become far more advanced than before. And this also applies for the hydraulic systems.
It is our clear conviction that the technical challenges faced by hydraulics today are fully on par with those faced by electronic technicians and electricians.
The hydraulic engineer reports to the Technical Manager, who has overall responsibility. But the Technical Manager is more than fully occupied with administrative tasks on a very busy offshore day. It’s therefore in no way possible for the Technical Manager to have full insight into the hydraulic systems. This means that the Hydraulic Technician stands alone with all the responsibility most of the time. (This also appears in the attached job descriptions)
It is expected that the Hydraulic Technician on his own can find all kinds of faults and repair them both safely and quickly. If more people are needed for the job, it’s also the Hydraulic Technician who shall lead the work.
All in all, it puts a lot of pressure and responsibility on the Hydraulics.
The responsibility is not lessened by the fact that many of the hydraulic functions are very important for safety in general. For example, his work area includes safety-related equipment such as cranes, personal lifting equipment, lifeboats, fire steamers, etc.
Furthermore, the Hydraulic Technician is responsible for maintaining the BOP and well control equipment, which is very essential for safety on board. This is specialized equipment that can only be found offshore, and mistakes can have fatal consequences.
It is our clear conviction that the Hydraulic Technician responsibilities and tasks are fully on the same level as other technical personnel who are paid in salary group A1. We therefore do not find it fair that they are still being placed in Salary Group B.
The Position Committee.
- So, what are our options now?
Is a very closed land without a collaboration with the company on a completely new type of position.
Local negotiations with the company:
The company believes that all the arguments we have presented for them in several discussions, are all natural developments in the position for the Hydraulics, and they will therefore not negotiate this with us. Nor will they help us create a new type of position for the Hydraulics.
Furthermore, they point out that the salary classification shall be taken during the main negotiations.
The main salary negotiations.
In the current situation with a company that does not want to negotiate with us, and a position committee that does not want to deal with the matter at all, the main salary negotiations is the only option right now.
NAF completely agrees that this matter must continue to be a high priority, and we feel quite certain in advance that the Annual Meeting will support this.
The working committee:
The committee which was adopted during the main negotiations in 2022.
We hope that the working committee can come up with some good solutions to solve all the challenges we have regarding the salary groups.
We 100% agree that the Hydraulics shall be raised up in a higher salary group, and we will of course continue to work on this matter and take advantage of every possible opportunity that may arise.
If anyone has some new inputs on the matter, or just wants to discuss it with us, or whatever, please feel free to contact us.