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Bilfinger UK confirms more than 150 furloughed workers face redundancy

Bilfinger Stanlow Essar

More than 150 workers at Bilfinger UK could face the axe as the company confirmed it has begun redundancy consultation for staff currently on the Covid-19 furlough scheme.

The decision by the energy services provider means around 170 workers are affected, mainly at the Ineos Forties Pipeline System (FPS) at Grangemouth and the Mossmorran chemical plant in Fife.

Staff received a letter from Bilfinger UK last week telling them their “position is potentially at risk of redundancy” due to the cancellation of work across the “vast majority” of its sites.

Bilfinger UK said it had a “statutory obligation” to consult with affected employees.

But one worker, who spoke to Energy Voice and did not want to be named, said the move would leave him in “a stressful” and “very bad situation financially”.

He accused Bilfinger UK of hanging workers “out to dry”, adding: “I thought being furloughed would at least keep the wolves from the door for a while.

“But in typical fashion Bilfinger did some furloughing because of all the bad press they were getting and now that’s blown over they want to get rid of hundreds of staff.”

Bilfinger UK, part of Germany-headquartered industrial services group Bilfinger, announced a multi-million pound maintenance services deal with Ineos at its Grangemouth and Kinneil sites in August that saw it double its workforce in the region.

The company’s headcount doubled to 220 when 110 staff transferred under Tupe regulations.

A spokesperson for Bilfinger UK, said: “Many business operating in the UK’s oil and gas and related sectors are facing the reality of a long period of reduced demand.

“This means that when the government’s furlough scheme is due to end, currently at the end of June, some roles will no longer be needed.

“As a result, we have a statutory obligation to begin consultation with the employees that could be affected as well as their unions.

“We currently have as many people on furlough as possible, including at our other sites and projects in Scotland and across the UK.”

GMB Scotland organiser Gary Cook described the situation as a “failure of government at all levels”, adding that “any meaningful recovery” in the aftermath of the coronavirus crisis is “dependent on the resilience of our energy industries”.

He said: “We are now witnessing the domino effect on oil and gas supply chains because of the failure of government at all levels to respond to the downturn in the sector – the absence of any coherent plan for the future of oil and gas is now clear for all to see.

“GMB Scotland will do everything we can for our members with the resources that we have but we need to be clear, we cannot stem this rising tide of redundancies unless industrial investment and planning is brought forward to help rebuild confidence across the sector.”

Bilfinger Group also has an offshore operations business in Aberdeen — Bilfinger Salamis.

It decided last week to place more than 500 furloughed workers into redundancy consultation.

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