News Releases
Government Home Search Sitemap Contact Us  

December 15, 1997
(Environment and Labour)

Government unveils labour relations regime for offshore oil production platforms

Charles Furey, Minister of Mines and Energy, on behalf of Premier Brian Tobin, and Environment and Labour Minister Oliver Langdon today jointly announced a labour relations regime to govern oil production platforms in the Newfoundland offshore industry. The necessary legislative amendments to the Labour Relations Act to implement the new regime will be tabled in the House of Assembly today.

Minister Furey stated that government has provided a framework that provides for a safe, stable and productive work environment. "I believe that government has taken the necessary steps to ensure harmonious labour relations in the offshore oil industry. The measures we are introducing today will greatly contribute to the province's ability to be globally competitive in the offshore oil industry. Certainly, this will enhance our position as a serious player in the international marketplace."

Morgan Cooper, a lawyer and labour relations specialist, was commissioned by government to recommend a labour relations framework for the offshore that would optimize safety, labour stability and productivity. The process involved extensive consultation with labour and industry.

"The response from stakeholders to this consultation process was extremely rewarding," said Minister Langdon. "The level of interest and forward thinking shown during these consultations indicates to me that the future of labour relations for this industry in this province is extremely positive."

The consultant's report, in large measure, confirms that the labour relations processes in the Labour Relations Act are appropriate for dealing with the offshore sector. In this context, one of the fundamental principles identified by Morgan Cooper, and fully endorsed by government, is the importance placed on the rights of workers on offshore production platforms to decide for themselves what type of representation, if any, they wish to have. Amendments to the act will be made only where necessary to accommodate the uniqueness of the offshore working environment.

Minister Langdon outlined some of the key amendments to be considered by the House of Assembly which include:

  • If there is a union on the platform, the unit appropriate for collective bargaining shall comprise all permanent employees on the platform.
  • The licensed production operator may represent all employers operating on the platform for purposes of dealing with a certification application should one be advanced (HMDC for the Hibernia project), with an employers' organization to be established immediately upon application approval.
  • A first collective agreement between the parties shall be for a minimum period of three years, with an arbitration process to be invoked to address impasses in the collective bargaining process related to the first agreement, if necessary. Strikes and lockouts will not be permitted during this period.
  • Agreement must be reached between the parties on mechanisms for the safe shutdown and maintenance of the platform prior to strike or lockout action being taken after the period of the first collective agreement has expired.

A Council of Trade Unions will be permitted to apply for certification before the Labour Relations Board if employees so choose this type of representation. "However," stated Mr. Langdon, "in the interests of worker safety, and project productivity and stability, there can be no room for jurisdictional disputes. For this reason, government is proposing very specific criteria be set down in legislation to guide decision-making by the Labour Relations Board on such an application."

Minister Furey stated that "throughout the consultative process leading up to the legislative proposal now before the House of Assembly, I have seen both labour and industry acknowledge the efforts and initiatives which are essential to ensure that Newfoundland and Labrador's offshore industry continues to grow. Such cooperation is key for this industry to maximize its potential and, if recent developments are any indication, that potential is enormous."

The amendments to the Labour Relations Act, once passed in the House of Assembly, will come into effect immediately.

In concluding, both Minister Furey and Minister Langdon personally commended Mr. Cooper on a very thorough job and thanked him for his dedication to this very important and challenging task.


Sean Kelly, Director of Communications, Environment and Labour,(709) 729-2575, or

Tara Laing, Director of Communications, Mines and Energy, (709) 729-4890.



On December 16, 1996, the former Minister of Environment and Labour, Kevin Aylward, appointed Morgan Cooper to provide recommendations on an employee/employer framework for offshore oil production platforms operating off this province.

Mr. Cooper combines practical experience as an arbitrator in the province, with a strong academic background having a Master of Industrial Relations and Bachelor of Laws degree.

Under the Terms of Reference, the consultant was to make recommendations to facilitate a harmonious labour relations climate on offshore oil production platforms that will optimize safety, stability, and productivity.

As part of his work, Mr. Cooper was to consult widely with all stakeholders to explore with interested stakeholders all possible options for an appropriate employee/employer process to govern offshore production platforms under provincial jurisdiction. The consultant invited labour, management, and other interested groups or individuals to make written submissions. Written submissions were received from 28 organizations from within the province and elsewhere.

The consultant met with representatives of 19 of these 28 organizations. The consultant also met with selected representatives from government, industry and labour in the provinces of Alberta and Nova Scotia as well as the countries of Norway and the United Kingdom. Meetings were also held with representatives from the Canada-Newfoundland Offshore Petroleum Board and the Canada-Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Board.

Mr. Cooper presented his report in May 1997. The report contained 12 recommendations.

Government immediately released the report to the public to afford stakeholders an opportunity to respond to Mr. Cooper's specific recommendations and government has since met with many stakeholders to discuss their response to the recommendations.

Highlights of Mr. Cooper's terms of reference include:

  • Review the effectiveness and efficiency of the existing legislative provisions in addressing the interests of stakeholders on offshore production platforms.
  • Review provincial, national, and international labour relations practices and strategies for ensuring harmonious labour relations in the offshore.
  • Provide a description of strategies and their implications in the event of worker representation on offshore production platforms, including, but not necessarily restricted to:

a. representation by a single bargaining unit, multiple bargaining units and/or a council of unions

b. the pros and cons of collective bargaining provisions including binding arbitration, final offer selection, imposed collective agreements

  • Give consideration to the benefits for maintaining harmonious labour and management relations if employer representation is by a council of employers, individual employers or multiple councils of employers.
  • Based on the consultations and the research conducted, develop a labour relations strategy with consideration given to the implications on offshore production platforms of the following:

a. strikes and/lockouts;
b. reaction of stakeholders to the recommendations including all management, labour, workers, etc.; and
c. the potential for developing and maintaining positive employee/employer relations.



  1. Review of the interdependence between the various activities which constitute the offshore petroleum industry, it is recommended that the provincial Minister of Environment and Labour initiate discussions with the Federal Minister of Labour to explore the potential for further rationalization of labour relations processes in the Newfoundland and Labrador offshore area.

  2. It is recommended that the employees who constitute the workforce on offshore oil production platforms ought to be the ultimate judge of their interests on the issue of union representation as well as the choice of bargaining agent.

  3. The consultant recommends that the Labour Relations Act be amended in a limited number of areas to accommodate specific needs arising from the special nature of work relations in the Newfoundland and Labrador offshore area.

  4. It is recommended that the province reject requests for the imposition of a freeze on certification applications in respect of employees on offshore production platforms.

  5. It is recommended that the legislation be amended directing the Labour Relations Board to determine that the unit appropriate for collective bargaining is the unit comprised of all employees on an offshore oil production platform with the exception of construction and start-up personnel.

  6. In support of efforts to facilitate long-term industrial stability, it is recommended that the Labour Relations Board be vested with the power to reconsider bargaining unit configurations for licensed production operators with multiple platforms and to make whatever consequential orders are necessary to re-establish effective procedures for collective bargaining and contract administration.

  7. Accordingly, it is recommended that the discretion vested in the Labour Relations Board to grant access to remote sites be strengthened by a provision requiring it to provide "reasonable" and "economical" access to offshore oil production platforms.

  8. It is recommended that the Labour Relations Board be vested with discretion to determine the appropriateness of a council of trade unions as a bargaining agent for employees on offshore oil production platforms.

  9. It is recommended that the licensed production operator be directed, on receipt by the Labour Relations Board of an application for certification in relation to a platform-wide bargaining unit, to constitute an organization of all employers of employees in the bargaining unit vested with the appropriate authority to act as the exclusive bargaining agent for all employers of employees in the unit.

  10. It is recommended that conventional interest arbitration be mandated as the dispute resolution mechanism for first agreement disputes in respect of offshore oil production platforms and the term of the first collective agreement be for three years or such longer period as the parties may agree.

  11. It is recommended that the parties to a collective agreement in relation to offshore oil production platforms be required to enter into an agreement setting out workforce requirements and procedures necessary to ensure the orderly and safe shutdown and maintenance of a platform in the event of a work stoppage.

  12. Having regard to the division of powers between the federal and provincial governments in relation to issues of health and safety on offshore oil production platforms, it is recommended that the provincial Minister of Environment and Labour initiate discussions between the provincial and federal governments on the efficacy and responsiveness of the current regulatory and administrative framework for safety in the offshore petroleum industry.
1997 12 15 12:40 p.m.


NOTE TO EDITORS: Copies of the speaking notes by Minister Langdon and Minister Furey are available by contacting the Communications and Consultation Branch at (709) 729-3610, or on the Internet at

SearchHomeBack to GovernmentContact Us

All material copyright the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador. No unauthorized copying or redeployment permitted. The Government assumes no responsibility for the accuracy of any material deployed on an unauthorized server.
Disclaimer/Copyright/Privacy Statement