Baker Hughes accused of fire and rehire

US oil and gas giant Baker Hughes laying waste to Scottish jobs, says Unite

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A giant US business, Baker Hughes, is being accused of `laying waste to Scottish jobs’ through fire and rehire by Unite.

Baker Hughes, which is one of the world’s biggest oil field services company, gave workers at their Angus sites five minutes’ notice before issuing redundancy notices, telling the workers that they have until early August to sign new contracts on vastly inferior rates of pay or lose their jobs.

The detrimental contractual changes include plans to cut shift and overtime rates by up to 50 per cent, which Unite estimates could wipe 29 per cent off workers’ wages, the equivalent to a £10,500 drop in annual income.

According to Unite, Baker Hughes boasts of a `favourable oil and gas price backdrop’, predicting a bright future. In the first quarter of this year alone, orders worth £5.6 billion ($6.8 billion) have been placed, up 51 per cent on the previous year, making a £515 million ($625m) profit, again up on the previous year.

The union has confirmed today (July 1) that it is set to hold an industrial action ballot over Baker Hughes’ scandalous fire and rehire-style tactics.

Amid the strife, Unite has seen membership surge. A recent consultative ballot of the workers at the two sites returned a 93.1 per cent vote in favour of taking industrial action to defend their terms and conditions.

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said, “Oil and gas businesses like Baker Hughes are making more money than they know what to do with at the moment – there is no need whatsoever to lay waste to the jobs and incomes of this Scottish community.

“Baker Hughes’ callous conduct is another shameless case of runaway boardroom greed.

“They should withdraw these plans immediately or face industrial action. Workers at the sites are now joining Unite in numbers because they know that this union will deploy every tool at our disposal to see off this abhorrent fire and rehire destruction. We will defend these jobs and pay.”

The company, which employs around 250 workers pioneers state-of-the-art manufacturing and engineering processes, such as industrial 3D printing and virtual reality tools, for the oil and gas industry.

George Ramsay, Unite industrial officer added, “The shameful behaviour by Baker Hughes has totally enraged the workers who are determined to fight against these detrimental cuts to their pay and conditions. Workers are facing cuts on their annual income by over £10,000, which is the equivalent to their salaries being cut by around a third. This is horrific at any given time never mind when workers are facing the worst cost of living crisis in a generation.”

“Baker Hughes is treating its entire workforce with utter contempt. The company needs to step back from the brink and remove the threat of fire and rehire, and if they do not, then they will have one hell of a fight on their hands.”

Baker Hughes, one of the largest employers in Angus, operates two sites in Montrose, at Charleton Road and Forties Industrial Estate on Brent Avenue.

It has one of the most advanced facilities of its kind after a £31m investment. The creation of the subsea centre of excellence in 2019 where the company is based was developed following a £4.9m Scottish Enterprise grant.

By Andrew Brady

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