A union has called for better protection for offshore workers on the 30th anniversary of the Piper Alpha disaster.

The Rail, Maritime and Transport workers union (RMT) said the government and regulators must do more for the safety of oil and gas employees, who have been under pressure since a downturn in the North Sea industry in 2014.

The message comes ahead of a remembrance service for the 167 men who died after the Piper Alpha offshore oil rig exploded off the coast of Scotland on July 6 1988. There were 61 survivors.

A report by Lord Cullen into the tragic incident led to a radical overhaul of health and safety policy in the offshore industry.

RMT general secretary Mick Cash said shift patterns, fears over helicopter safety and uncertainty around decommissioning were all piling pressure on offshore workers.

'Respecting the memory of the Piper Alpha victims should mean adopting the highest possible standards that put safety before profit,' he said.

'This would be consistent with the Cullen Report's objective of continuous improvement of the offshore safety culture.

'Regrettably, however, the business model that has developed in the North Sea, especially since the 2014 downturn, is putting unwelcome pressure on our members.

'Three weeks on and three weeks off shift pattern, a crisis of confidence in the safety of helicopter transport, ineffective regulations and the prospect of North Sea assets repeatedly changing hands before decommissioning by low-paid foreign staff is the industrial reality for today's offshore workers.

'Employers, government, regulators must do more for the safety of offshore workers. The consequences of complacency are unthinkable.'

Mr Cash said the union offers its condolences and support to the families, loved ones and work mates of the 167 men who died in the 'deeply traumatic incident'.

The RMT said that since the collapse in the oil price in 2014, 160,000 jobs have been lost on installations and across the supply chain supporting the North Sea oil and gas industry.

Remaining staff have seen increased shift patterns imposed, pay cuts and the erosion of employment rights, according to the union.