A north-east trade union chief has urged ministers to defend workers after an energy giant announced it was to cut thousands of jobs.
Jake Molloy, regional organiser of the RMT union, said BP’s decision to make 10,000 people redundant would have a knock-on effect on other firms in the industry.
He warned the move would lead to uncertainty among employees in all areas of the North Sea sector.
Mr Molloy slammed BP for taking the decision just weeks after paying out millions in a huge dividend to its shareholders.
He urged Scottish and UK Government ministers to consider legislation protecting thousands of jobs in the event of changes in the oil price.
He said: “The current situation must be devastating for the hard-working employees, as well as the wider industry.
“At the moment, every worker in every sector is looking over their shoulder because they don’t know when the next blow is going to come.
“For workers to be repeatedly treated in this way with every swing of the oil price is shameful – especially when BP have paid out a massive dividend to their shareholders in the last few weeks.
“It is time for some creative legislative provisions to be put in place by governments to protect the people who are being abused by the way the industry works at the moment.
“We can’t go on like this, with thousands of people losing jobs every time there is a change in the price. There must be a better way.”
As reported in The Evening Express earlier this week, In an email to staff, BP chief executive Bernard Looney said: “We will now begin a process that will see close to 10,000 people leaving BP – most by the end of this year.
“The majority of people affected will be in office-based jobs. We are protecting the frontline of the company and, as always, prioritising safe and reliable operations.
“The oil price has plunged well below the level we need to turn a profit. We are spending much, much more than we make – I am talking millions of dollars every day. As a result, our net debt rose by $6 billion US dollars (£4.7bn) in the first quarter.”
UK Government energy minister Kwasi Kwarteng said: “We will continue to work tirelessly with all partners, including the devolved administration in Scotland, G20 and regulators to provide support.
“We continue to look at the best way forward to support the sector in the long-term and remain committed to working together.
“While times are extremely challenging, the UK Government is ready to support.
“The North Sea will get through this and come out stronger than ever – playing a leading role in the clean growth economy for years to come.”
Mr Looney said: “Beyond the clear human tragedy of coronavirus, there has been widespread economic fallout, along with consequences for our industry and our company.
“Everyone on the BP leadership team realises these decisions will mean significant, life-changing consequences for thousands of colleagues and friends, and I am really sorry this will hurt a lot of people who I know love this company as much as I do.”
Mr Looney added support would be put in place for people leaving the company, including support in finding a new career and coaching to build jobseeking skills.
The Scottish Government’s energy minister Paul Wheelhouse said: “This is a very sad situation and our thoughts are of course with the employees and their families amid the uncertainty they face.
“Clearly it is not, as yet, clear which posts will be affected, albeit BP appear set to reduce their staff head count by around 14% globally, with office-based posts thought to be most vulnerable. We know that BP directly employ around 2,000 people in Scotland and 16,000 across the UK as a whole.
“While the scale of impact in Scotland is not yet clear, we will do everything in our power to help those affected through our initiative for responding to redundancy situations, Partnership Action for Continuing Employment (Pace).
“In response to these uncertain times, we have put in place a significant package of support of more than £2.3 billion to try to ensure as many businesses survive as possible.
“I will continue to work through the Oil and Gas and Energy Transition Strategic Leadership Group, which I chair, to monitor the impact of the downturn on the sector and its supply chain, and to work with OGUK, OGA, trade unions and employers to identify practical actions to support the sector, its supply chain and, most crucially, the workforce.
“The oil and gas industry is a critical component in the Scottish economy. It has a crucial role to play in the energy transition required to move to an economy and society that generates net zero greenhouse gas emissions.
“I will also seek to work closely with the UK Government, which retains many of the key levers needed to support the sector, to ensure both governments are doing all they can to protect jobs and retain vital skills.”