Baker Hughes workers have voted to pursue strike action over alleged “fire and re-hire” tactics at sites across Angus, despite company claims it has not proposed headcount reductions or redundancies.
Around 110 workers voted for strike action by an 87.3% margin based on a turnout of nearly 90%, Unite the Union said on Friday.
Unite claimed in June that workers in Montrose were given “five minutes notice” ahead of being delivered redundancy papers and told they had until early August to sign new contracts at reduced pay.
Baker Hughes, one of the largest employers in Angus, operates two sites in Montrose, at Charleton Road and Forties Industrial Estate on Brent Avenue.
However, the oilfield services giant has strongly denied the allegations.
The company previously confirmed it was consulting on changes with workers due to the impact of lower subsea activity and project deferrals, but stated it was “not suggesting redundancies or headcount reductions”.
It said the consultation covered reducing the percentage uplift on certain shifts – which does not impact base salary – due to lower contract orders.
However, Unite today accused the company of “laying waste to Scottish jobs” through what it called “fire and rehire tactics” which it said could slash the annual wages of workers by up to 29%.
It said the drop would be equivalent a loss of around £10,500 in annual income, and that contractual changes included plans to cut shift and overtime rates by up to 50%.
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.”
Ms Graham said the alleged pay cut was “a new low” for an industry “plagued by corporate callousness.”
Unite industrial officer George Ramsay added that members were “rightly enraged” by the company’s actions.
“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,” he said.
“Our members are determined to fight this corporate bully, and we want the public in Angus to support us in this battle.”
A spokesperson for the company said: “Baker Hughes is aware that a minority of employees at our Montrose site (23%) have voted for industrial action. This action is premature as we are still in the process of collective employee consultation.
“Our Montrose employees are of huge importance to Baker Hughes. To clarify, this consultation is not suggesting headcount reductions. It is also not suggesting any reduction in basic hourly pay or any reduction in any overtime rates. Consultation is looking at 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. Unfortunately, Baker Hughes has been affected by lower subsea contract activity as reflected in our Q2 earnings last week, and we must respond to the economic impact of this reality.”
Last year around 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.
In addition, around 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.
The company posted global pre-tax profits of $428 million in 2021, on revenues of $20.5 billion.