Director hits back at offshore worker blacklisting claims

north sea oil rigImage copyrightGETTY IMAGES

The managing director of a scaffolding business who has lost workers to the oil and gas industry has hit back at claims former offshore workers are now being unfairly blacklisted.

BBC Scotland revealed on Monday that an MSP had passed concerns about the practice to the UK government.

One oil worker said companies would not hire him because they believed he would quit if the oil price rose again.

William Dore of MJD and Sons said companies were tired of losing workers.

Mr Dore, managing director of the Irvine-based firm in Ayrshire, told the BBC Scotland news website: “I would imagine the real reason firms are reluctant to employ former offshore workers is because they are sick of employees leaving without providing any notice whatsoever, as soon as an opportunity offshore arises.

“I have been an employer in the construction industry for 34 years. During this time we have lost scores of workers to the oil rigs, many of whom we have spent thousands of pounds training from scratch.

“We cannot deny the right of anyone to increase their earnings, however the way these offshore companies work is unethical.

“They have cherry-picked workers from the mainland for years, with blatant disregard for the companies they were working for.”

‘Home to roost’

He added: “We have had employees leave us in the middle of the day because they have received a call to go offshore; they have been told they need to go immediately or lose the opportunity.

“These practices have had a profound effect on my business over the years; lost clients, profitability, job losses etc.

“I have zero sympathy for the offshore industry. They have vastly overpaid people for years, their issues are mainly self-inflicted, and finally the chickens are coming home to roost.”

North Sea oil platformImage copyrightPA
Image captionThe North Sea industry has seen oil prices drop

Discrimination against former oil and gas workers by employers outside the industry is tantamount to blacklisting, a union earlier said.

John Boland, from Unite, said such treatment of workers needed to be stopped.

Aberdeenshire East MSP Gillian Martin wrote to UK Employment Minister Damian Hinds about the issue and it was passed to Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS).

‘Highly-skilled’

A BEIS spokesperson said: “The UK government is rightly proud of the oil and gas workers who have been on the frontline of an industry facing unprecedented challenges.

“Where jobs have been lost in the sector, we’re determined to hold on to that talent.

“That’s why we published the Oil and Gas workforce plan and expanded the Talent Retention website to give workers greater access to new opportunities in more than 1,000 engineering and manufacturing companies.

“Businesses should be in no doubt that the oil and gas industry in Scotland has one of the most highly-skilled workforces in the world.”

Deirdre Michie, Oil & Gas UK’s chief executive, said: “Our people are both skilled and experienced and have much to offer other sectors and employers across the UK.

“We continue to work together with the Scottish Energy Jobs Task Force and all relevant stakeholders to try and mitigate the negative impact of these really tough times which has resulted in jobs being lost to the industry.”

Scotland’s Employment Minister Jamie Hepburn, who was also contacted, said: “These claims are deeply concerning and it’s absolutely right that Gillian Martin has raised this with the UK government, which has responsibility in this area.”

Thousands of people have lost their jobs since the oil downturn began.

 

 

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