A Polish offshore worker and accredited crane operator said he was “shocked and annoyed” by offshore recruitment firm Ryan Ship Management’s attempt to exclude Polish staff.
Deck foreman Arek Cyman described the situation as “obvious discrimination”.
Mr Cyman, who has also previously worked offshore for oilfield services firm Baker Hughes, said last night he should be judged on his experience, rather than his race.
He said: “In my 19 year career in the maritime and offshore industry I’ve never experienced such obvious and blatant discrimination.
“I’ve always proudly showed my nationality wherever I’ve worked and overall have had very positive experiences.
“Even when I was working in different continents with different nationalities, no-one ever discriminated against me because of that.
“The most important thing should be my experience, not my nationality.”
Jake Molloy, RMT Union’s regional organiser, suggested Polish workers may be unwitting targets for discrimination because they are “becoming more savvy” about unacceptable rates of pay offshore.
He said: “More and more Polish staff, to their credit, are just saying ‘no’ to poor wages”, adding that RMT were “actively pursuing” the issue through the Offshore Taskforce Group.
Mr Cyman said he thought the stipulation to “avoid” Polish workers most likely came from the North Sea operator, but was disappointed to see Ryan Ship Management uphold the request.
He said: “I and other Poles will never stand for this kind of racist behaviour in our sector.
“I’m glad this kind of discrimination and the increase in the sector is being publicised.”
“I hope this is going to have consequences, not only for Ryan Ship Management but most especially for their client who requested this type of requirements in the hiring process.”
North Sea recruiter could face ‘expensive’ legal action
Tricia Walker, a partner at corporate law firm Burness Paull LLP, last night claimed Ryan Ship Management could face potential legal action over its behaviour.
She suggested that, while some job roles may discriminate on race as a requirement of the position, employers must “exercise caution and good judgement” at all times.
Ms Walker said: “Treating individuals differently on grounds of their nationality alone is likely, in most cases, to give rise to potential race discrimination complaints.
“In law there may be a ‘genuine occupational requirement’ for someone to be of a particular race or ethnic origin to perform a role, but that must arise as a consequence of the ‘nature’ of the job in question and not merely the nature of the organisation.”
“Furthermore, the exception only applies where the application of the ‘occupational requirement’ is a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim, and it must not be a sham or a pretext.
“What this example does show is that in order to avoid discrimination claims of all kinds, employers need to exercise caution and good judgement, not just at the point of interview, but in relation to the content of job adverts too.
“If someone feels that they have been unfairly prevented from applying for a job on the grounds of a discriminatory job advert, potentially expensive claims may follow.”