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More Than 80 Jobs to be Axed at Baker Hughes

Almost a third of the Angus workers at oil and gas firm Baker Hughes are at risk of redundancy.

A formal consultation process has started with more than 150 staff at the major Montrose employer, 30% of the workforce.

A meeting on Tuesday broke the news to staff.

It is understood that between 80 and 90 Angus jobs will be lost.

It follows reports at the end of May that workers were handed termination letters by company bosses.

The US-based firm is reeling from Covid-19 and the significant decline in oil and gas prices last year.

These factors led to lower subsea contract activity and an increase in project deferrals.

As Baker Hughes’ subsea centre of excellence, this impacts directly on Montrose.

“Given the long-cycle nature of our subsea business, Montrose is experiencing a reduction in backlog,” a Baker Hughes spokesperson said.

“Further to several proactive cost-control initiatives, we have announced a proposal for a reduction in force with up to 30% of the manufacturing workforce impacted in a group consultation.

“This proposal includes a phased approach following the consultation process and until the end of 2021.”

Baker Hughes operates two sites in Montrose, at Charleton Road and Forties Industrial Estate on Brent Avenue.

It is one of the largest employers in Angus. It has one of the most advanced facilities of its kind in Montrose, after a £31 million investment two years ago.

The creation of the subsea centre of excellence, supported by a £5m Scottish Enterprise grant, led to it creating 160 jobs. Its Angus workforce was around 600 staff.

The Baker Hughes spokesperson adds: “We remain confident in the long-term prospect of subsea energy production.

“We will maintain our capabilities while reducing capacity in our Montrose subsea centre of excellence.”

The firm expects recovery in the sector next year.

“We see the subsea market slowly returning in 2022 and 2023,” the spokesperson adds.

“This may help future work volume to the Montrose Subsea CoE, our flagship facility, and we intend to stay here.

“Workforce reductions are a difficult part of our restructuring plan. This decision was not made lightly.

“We are working to limit the reductions as much as possible.”

After Tuesday’s meeting a Baker Hughes worker says he feels “sick”.

“I don’t know if I can survive this,” he says.

Angus politicians have reacted to news one of the area’s largest employers, Baker Hughes, plans to make more than 80 workers redundant.

Scottish Conservative shadow employment minister and North East MSP Tess White called on the Scottish Government to play a role in protecting the jobs.

She said: “The centre of excellence was a huge boost for Montrose, securing a base for the next generation of energy technology and the highly-skilled jobs that go with it.

“This is devastating for the area and will be so upsetting for all those going through the collective consultation process.

“Covid continues to exact a toll on the industry globally.

“But I want to see these jobs retained in Angus and I have contacted the employment minister to see what can be done.

“This cannot be another McVitie’s.

“The Scottish Government must intervene now to help save these jobs.”

Mairi Gougeon, MSP for Angus North and Mearns, said the impact of the job losses will be felt throughout Angus.

She said the development was “incredibly worrying and distressing”.

“I can only imagine how those staff affected are feeling at this decision,” she said.

“While Baker Hughes have outlined their commitment to Montrose, that won’t be any comfort to those impacted by these job losses.

“I will be working to ensure whatever can be done, is being done to support the workforce.

“I have contacted the Employment Minister in the Scottish Government and Angus Council to ask what action is being taken.”

Montrose independent councillor Mark Salmond said the job losses come as a “major shock” to staff.

He said: “This is devastating news for the workers and their families

“Baker Hughes’s investment in Montrose has been significant and created hundreds of skilled jobs in the Angus area.

“While this is a setback, the commitment by Baker Hughes to the future of their Montrose facility will be welcomed by the retained staff and the local community.”

Montrose SNP councillor Bill Duff said previous support shown by Scottish Enterprise, in the form of a £5 million grant for Baker Hughes to open its centre of excellence, “compounds my disappointment at the news.”

Ron Sturrock, a Conservative councillor in Montrose, said: “It’s sad news for the workers and families involved and the town will feel the impact as well.

“The oil price is significantly up on last year but I don’t know if it’s enough for companies to start committing to projects.

“I certainly hope the market can pick up for Baker Hughes.”

Independent councillor Tommy Stewart said he was confident the firm would recover.

Angus MP Dave Doogan, said he will request an urgent meeting with the firm.

He added: “It is very disappointing that more jobs are at risk at this site.

“I hope job losses are kept to a minimum. I look forward to seeing increased demand at the site in the not too distant future, post-Covid.”

Labour North East MSP Michael Marra added: “Our offshore industries remain critical to the north east.

“The expertise in the workforce at Baker Hughes is vital to our economy now and in the future.

“Government agencies must engage with the company to ensure it benefits from the upturn as demand in the economy grows.”

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