The Scottish Government has been challenged to tackle the “worst industrial crisis” in the country’s history – and help the offshore industry plan for a brighter future.
The call was made as SNP delegates started gathering in Europe’s oil capital for what has been billed as the party’s biggest conference in its history.
Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale accused the Nationalist administration at Holyrood of “sitting on its hands” as new figures showed soaring numbers of people in the north-east are applying for Job Seeker’s Allowance.
Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire are the only two areas in Scotland where the number of claimants rose year-on-year during September.
Industry body Oil & Gas UK has reported that 65,000 jobs across Britain have been lost in the vital sector because of the slump in oil prices, almost half of those centred around the North Sea.
Ms Dugdale, who visited Aberdeen yesterday, said: “The oil jobs crisis has affected families across Scotland, not only workers in the oil industry but households who rely on jobs in the supply chain too.
“It’s now time the SNP government recognised that setting up quarterly reporting of the condition of the industry and its effect on jobs would allow for long-term planning, and more security and peace of mind for families.”
Ms Dugdale claimed the jobs crisis was now the worst in Scotland’s history.
“These job losses in Scotland are larger than when Ravenscraig in Lanarkshire shut its doors and the aftermath of the coalfields being shut down,” she said.
“It is an industrial crisis on a huge scale but the response from the SNP government in Edinburgh has been to sit on their hands.
“This is too important an issue for the SNP to ignore because it is politically embarrassing.
“They should commit to more regular and more in-depth report about one of Scotland’s most valuable industries.”
But Scottish Labour was accused by the SNP of being “out of touch”.
A spokesman for Energy Minister Fergus Ewing said: “The Scottish Government already reports quarterly on the conditions faced by the industry and also publishes a range of analysis and statistics on the Scottish economy and the oil and gas sector on a quarterly basis.
“These include the Quarterly National Accounts Scotland publication and new experimental oil and gas statistics that estimate Scottish proportions of hydrocarbon production volumes, sales revenue, and operating and capital costs.
“The Scottish Government is committed to retaining the jobs, skills and talent which is the bedrock of Scotland’s internationally competitive oil and gas sector.”
Figures from the Office of National Statistics show there were 521 more people in Aberdeen claimed Job Seeker’s Allowance in September than in the same period last year, giving a total of 2,245.
In Aberdeenshire, 357 more people claimed the allowance in September than they did last year, making the total number of claimants 1,267.
The true number of people being made redundant in the region is likely to be far higher, as many cannot – or will no – claim the allowance.