North-east MSP Lewis Macdonald has written to Oil and Gas UK in a call to protect oil industry jobs through Covid-19.
He has called on the industry to use the UK Government’s Job Retention Scheme instead of making workers redundant.
It follows decisions made by Archer to make 130 workers redundant, as it believed it did not qualify for the scheme as it cannot guarantee employees will have work to return to once the crisis has passed.
Guidance from the UK Government suggests that employers can use the furlough scheme to postpone a decision to make employees redundant.
Now, Lewis Macdonald has written to Deirdre Michie, chief executive of Oil and Gas UK, encouraging the body to advise its members redundancies are not needed at this time.
He said: “I am calling on the industry to do the right thing and use the scheme to protect jobs. The prospect of being made redundant in these hugely uncertain times will be a huge blow to employees.
“The guidance seems clear that employers can access the scheme to furlough their workers and I have written to OGUK to make this case.
“Employers should always to do the right thing by their employees. This is particularly so during unprecedented times like these, and I hope employers will take advantage of the scheme without further delay.”
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OGUK Supply Chain Director Matt Abraham said: “This is a worrying time for many people and their families as they face the economic consequences of the coronavirus pandemic, but the oil and gas sector faces especially challenging circumstances with additional and potentially longer term pressures on oil and gas prices.
“Companies face difficult decisions to ensure they are in the best place to emerge from this and each company of course is unique in how it is affected, the opportunities it sees in the future business environment and its workforce profile.
“We’ve welcomed the government’s furlough scheme which provides support but only in the short term for businesses. We have made the case to extend this period further.
“However, there is no getting away from the fact that this is another long term challenging period for our industry, coming so soon after the last downturn.”