Bullying seems to be alive and well in the corridors of shame – I mean power.

Does shouting and swearing at the workers by offshore management still go on?  I kinda guessed that this sort of bullying had long gone.  But then again I spent the last 20 years of my offshore life in Norway where it was a definite No! No!

Over there the only people who in my experience, even tried that kind of stunt were Barge Engineers (OIMs) and toolpushers who came over from the UK with drilling units.  They didn’t last.  They were replaced after having had the opportunity to change their “management style”. Mind you they didn’t have the sort of friends that Priti Patel has in Westminster.  

Norway’s offshore unions are way stronger than UK’s.   But to be fair they haven’t ever had to contend with a succession of ghouls like Margaret Thatcher and Tony Blair and the rest. And to be honest the unions didn’t usually have to intervene in bullying. The culture was different over there.  The unions had negotiating rights for good agreements and they periodically strike to defend and improve them.  Two weeks onboard and four weeks off.  You can work offshore Norway and live a good life – a family life if that is your thing – and as long as families are going to continue being a “thing” as the planet heats up.

In the early days of the industry in the UK (I’m talking the early 70s) the bullying, at least in drilling,  didn’t stop at just shouting and swearing.  Physical violence wasn’t exactly an everyday experience but it was an ever present threat.

I wonder if Jim Matthews, no doubt long retired as a Conoco Company Man, remembers when he was barge engineer on Sedneth 701 backing up a Deep South redneck “Company Man” while he pinned a 20 year old roughneck in a corner in the pit room?  And I wonder if he remembers Eddie Homan the welder explaining patiently to the Co Man, in his office, in front of Matthews and others, just why he should never try a stunt like that again.  Heady days!  Of course Eddie was fitted up and sent down the road not too long after, I believe. I was gone by then.

Of course the main form of bullying offshore on the drilling units was “running off” and though this didn’t entail physical manhandling (in most cases at least) it left guys on the beach without a job, families without prospects, and a feeling of helplessness that felt worse than a punch in the face.  Amongst construction engineering workers it was (still is?) the NRB (not required back) where your employer (Salamis maybe, or Wood Group back in the day) would be told by the operator not to send you back out to the platform.

Your “face didn’t fit”.  That mostly was a code for “not prepared to just put up with  bullying bullshit”.

Sign up and get into the conversation. Let us know what’s going on out there You still might have to put up with shit.  But you don’t have to do it in silence.  That’s important.