Ørsted: Two years on from landmark recognition deal

Steve Thomas · 21 June 2024

As we approach the second anniversary of our landmark recognition deal with one of the world’s leading offshore wind companies, Prospect National Secretary Steve Thomas looks back on how the deal was done, growing the branch and the difference that we’re making for members.

Prospect is the UK’s leading energy union, representing more than 20,000 members working across nuclear and energy generation, transmission and distribution.

When you combine that with our commitment to tackling the climate emergency and being a staunch advocate for a Just Transition, then it’s clear that the growing renewable energy sector is also a perfect fit for Prospect.

Even the most conservative estimates suggest that we will need tens of thousands of new renewable energy workers if the UK has any chance of meeting its Net Zero targets, and make that leap to a carbon-free economy.

All those workers will need skills training, will need health and safety protections, they should be paid fairly, treated well and given an independent and expert voice at work.

In fairness, Ørsted understood this, and were happy to discuss a collective recognition agreement with Prospect.

My colleague Sam Gipson, Prospect’s Senior Organiser, has written about the benefits of recognition agreements in her blog:

What is recognition, why does it matter and how do we achieve it? 

The recognition deal

Both sides wanted it to happen, so in August 2022 we signed a recognition deal with Ørsted UK, that covered all employees involved in the operation and maintenance of its 12 UK offshore wind farms.

This saw Prospect recognised as the sole negotiating body for the terms and conditions of around 450 of Ørsted’s Operations & Maintenance staff, based at sites across the UK including Barrow, Grimsby, Wallasey and Brightlingsea.

Steve Thomas at Ørsted

Duncan Clark, Head of Region UK at Ørsted, said at the time:

“When developing this partnership, Prospect and Ørsted have found strong alignment of values, ambition and experience in the energy sector. Prospect is well-established in the offshore wind sector, priding itself on empowering and upskilling highly technical roles whilst also having a strong reputation for establishing fair and equitable terms and conditions for employees.”

So, what’s happened in the two years since?

I think it has been, it would be fair to say, an extremely successful start to our partnership.

The branch has grown to nearly 150 members – and we’re still growing month-on-month.

We have recruited successfully but just as significantly is that we have recruited well across the company at multiple sites, on the west coast and east coast, and in multiple roles.

The largest number of members are the technicians maintaining  the offshore wind farms, but we also have members who are offshore coordinators, operations managers, planners and members in the warehouse. Our broad-based membership reflects Ørsted’s workforce.

Making the difference for our members

In terms of industrial relations, soon after the recognition deal, we negotiated a cost-of-living award outside of pay negotiations, which was a major success.

Then, we successfully negotiated a pay award for last year as well, and are now currently considering this year’s offer.

Outside of the pay deals, there have been several other issues where we have been able to find solutions for our members, like an uplift for their Offshore Flexibility Allowance, which is something that their Works Council had been asking for going back many years now.

Another example where we have been able to speak to the company on behalf of our members is something that’s called the Chester Step Test, which measures someone’s physical ability to work on a turbine.

It’s been a longstanding issue because you’re potentially disadvantaged if you’re at a particular age. So, after discussions with the company, they’ve now got a static bike as well to conduct that fitness test – a solution that members are happy with.

There have been other examples, like overtime or night shift payments, where we are helping members by having constructive dialogue with the company, and finding solutions to problems.

In addition, there has been several personal cases where we have managed to reach successful outcomes for the members who have been affected.

Overall, to give credit where it’s due, Ørsted have been very good to deal with and it’s been satisfying to work with them, as genuine partners, on things like updating their disciplinary and grievance procedures and working on how apprentices can be welcomed into the workplace.

I can’t speak for them, but I would imagine that Ørsted are also happy with how the last couple of years have gone because we have since extended the recognition deal to cover new areas, such as Health and Safety Advisers and Jack Up vessel technicians.

As I say, it’s been a fantastic two years – and we’re only getting started.

Find out more:


Climate emergency

An expert and independent voice for employees at Ørsted

two energy workers


From generation to transmission, Prospect represents the interests of over 22,500 members working across all parts of the energy sector.