Baker Hughes has strongly denied claims that hundreds of workers across Aberdeen and Montrose have been told to accept a pay cut or lose their jobs.
Unite the Union issued a statement on Friday saying workers have been issued a “fire and re-hire” ultimatum.
The trade union claims some 400 workers across two sites in Montrose and two in Aberdeen’s Altens and Bridge of Don are affected.
Unite said workers in Montrose were “given “five minutes notice” ahead of being delivered redundancy papers and told they have until early August to sign new contracts at reduced pay.
But the oilfield services giant has said its consultation “is not suggesting redundancies or headcount reductions”.
It confirmed that a consultation has been opened on reducing the percentage uplift on certain shifts – which does not impact base salary – due to lower contract orders.
But the firm said “we are not proposing redundancies as part of this consultation”.
Contradictions at every turn
Despite the two sides contradicting each other at every turn, what is clear is that a ballot on industrial action will take place for the two Montrose sites, after a recent consultative ballot returned 93.1% in favour.
It is not known at this stage whether action will be taken in Aberdeen.
Baker Hughes confirmed Unite’s claims that the company has not been recognising the union in negotiations, instead engaging “elected employee representatives” in talks.
A spokesperson for the company said: “Unfortunately, Baker Hughes has been affected by lower subsea contract activity and an increase in project deferrals, and we are having to respond to the economic impact of this reality.
“To clarify, the consultation that is currently underway is not suggesting redundancies or headcount reductions. It is also not suggesting any reduction in basic hourly pay or any reduction in any overtime rates.
“What this consultation is looking at, is reducing (but not eliminating) the uplift in pay associated with shift work for one shift pattern.
“Baker Hughes is following due legal process to manage this proposed change and seek potential alternatives, through collective consultation with elected employee representatives.
“To clarify, employees would still get shift allowance and paid overtime at an increased rate to their regular hours.”
The firm said the goal is to protect Scottish jobs at its sites and “we are not proposing redundancies as a part of this consultation”.
Baker Hughes: ‘We are not proposing redundancies’
However Unite the Union was adamant on Friday that 400 workers have been told to accept the terms or face losing their jobs.
Unite said the changes from Baker Hughes would see 29% wiped off overall take-home pay; the equivalent to a £10,500 drop in annual income.
The trade union said the move amounts to a “shameless case of runaway boardroom greed”.
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 firm is one of the largest employers in Montrose, with two sites at Charleston Road and Forties Industrial Estate on Brent Avenue.
Last year some 100 jobs were put at risk at Baker Hughes base in Bridge of Don in Aberdeen, with the firm saying it was “proposing” the shutdown of its manufacturing base on Woodside Road.
Elsewhere, some 80 – 90 jobs are believed to have been cut last year by the oilfield services firm at Montrose, with the business impacted by Covid-19.
In February this year, European region lead Romain Chambault said the firm remained committed to the region despite the cuts.
He said: “We had to take a good, hard look at the way we were working and adjust accordingly.”
Baker Hughes is an oilfield services and equipment giant, which posted pre-tax profits of $428 million in 2021, on revenues of $20.5 billion.
The firm has north of 4,000 employees in the UK and supports more than 3,000 suppliers.