Around 200 north-east oil workers are to be laid off – and staff are furious they are not being furloughed.
Portlethen-based drilling firm KCA Deutag is consulting on making redundant its staff who work on behalf of Total, EnQuest and Canadian Natural Resources (CNR).
KCA cited the coronavirus impact on oil prices and claimed it was not viable to furlough staff on 80% pay, stumped up by the government, sparking confusion among staff.
One member of staff, who asked not to be named for fear of disciplinary action, said: “It makes no sense. If coronavirus is to blame, then why not claim the furlough money from the government?
“We have asked this question but have had no clear answer.
“If Covid-19 passes and the oil price doesn’t pick up, people would understand being made redundant then, but not now.”
Documents seen by the Evening Express show KCA’s UK country manager Jim Paterson said during one minuted conference call: “We are now looking at somewhere in the region of 200 potential redundancies, so no one should be under any illusions of what is going on here.”
He cited uncertainty about coronavirus and a disagreement between Russia and Saudi Arabia about oil production as “issues that have put us where we are”.
A 45-day consultation began on March 17 for KCA staff working on behalf of CNR and on March 23 for KCA staff working on behalf of EnQuest and Total.
Several conference calls have taken place since May 24 involving senior staff and employee representatives.
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The most recent was last Thursday, when KCA said applying for the UK Government job retention scheme was not viable.
An HR representative said 38 staff working on behalf of Total, 32 working on behalf of CNR and around 76 working on the Heather, Thistle and Magnus platforms on behalf of EnQuest could lose their jobs.
It is understood other proposed redundancies related to office and support staff.
During one meeting, Mr Paterson stated he hoped it was a “temporary blip” lasting “between three-to-nine months”.
The member of staff said: “This is what has left us all so furious. If it’s a blip and will be overcome in three months, why not take the furlough option?”
A KCA spokesman said: “The collective consultation process follows notice from clients of cancellation of UK North Sea contracts due to the combination of a rapid decline in oil price and the Covid-19 pandemic.
“With no visibility or confirmation of this work returning after lockdown is lifted, it has been necessary to take this step to ensure the business can continue to operate as efficiently as possible.
“We continue to explore how we can support impacted colleagues through the Government’s Job Retention Scheme, but in the majority of roles affected by this unprecedented situation, we do not believe, unfortunately, that the furlough scheme will apply.
“The consultation process will examine all other avenues to protect jobs, including redeployment and consideration of voluntary redundancy.”