Unite today (July 29) announced that its members working for US oil and gas giant, Baker Hughes, have voted for strike action in a dispute over fire and rehire tactics.
Around 110 workers voted for strike action by 87.3 per cent on an 87.5 per cent turnout to defend their jobs, terms and conditions.
In June, Baker Hughes gave workers at their Angus sites five minutes’ notice before issuing redundancy notices. The company told the workers that they have until early August to sign new contracts on vastly inferior rates of pay or face losing their jobs.
Unite has accused the multi-billion pound company of ‘laying waste to Scottish jobs’ through its fire and rehire tactics which could wipe-off up to 29 per cent from the annual wages of Baker Hughes workers.
Unite estimates that this is equivalent to a £10,500 drop in annual income. The detrimental contractual changes include plans to cut shift and overtime rates by up to 50 per cent.
Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said, “Unite’s growing membership at Baker Hughes are prepared to take the company head-on to protect their jobs, pay and conditions. They will have their union’s full support in this fight. Boardroom greed by oil and gas businesses like Baker Hughes is nothing new but even this billion dollar company’s proposals to cut pay by £10,000 is a new low for an industry plagued by corporate callousness.”
Baker Hughes, one of the largest employers in Angus, operates two sites in Montrose, at Charleton Road and Forties Industrial Estate on Brent Avenue.
The company employs around 250 workers who pioneer state-of-the-art manufacturing and engineering processes, such as industrial 3D printing and virtual reality tools, for the oil and gas industry.
It has one of the most advanced facilities of its kind after a recent £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.
George Ramsay, Unite industrial officer said, “Unite’s members are rightly enraged by the scandalous fire and rehire tactics deployed Baker Hughes. They have emphatically voted for strike action because at any time standing to lose a third of your income is disastrous never mind during the worst cost of living crisis in a generation. Our members are determined to fight this corporate bully, and we want the public in Angus to support us in this battle.”
According to Unite, Baker Hughes which is one of the world’s biggest oil field services company, 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.
By Elizabeth Cairns