Mass workforce meeting will hear challenge to Schlumberger on Newtownabbey closure proposal

Unite 0014Unite Regional Secretary designate will say growth in number of rigs shows signs of recovery in oil and gas sector, closure unjustified

Schlumberger corporate management prioritising share buy-backs over investment despite half billion dollar profit in last quarter alone

October 29th: Jackie Pollock, Unite Regional Secretary designate, will address workers at the site at a mass meeting scheduled for 11am tomorrow [Monday October 30th]. At the meeting he will challenge Schlumberger on the justification that they have offered for their proposal to close the Newtownabbey production site given the signs that the oil and gas industry are set to enjoy a recovery:

“Last week corporate management in Schlumberger announced their intent to close their Newtownabbey production facility with the loss of more than two hundred jobs. Unite rejects the case for this proposal and question why workers in Northern Ireland in particular are being asked to pay the price for what has been a global downturn in the oil and gas sector.

“When pressed, Schlumberger management indicated that the work currently conducted in Northern Ireland would be off-shored to China, Mexico or the United States. The former two locations are renowned for their exploitative wage rates – the latter may reflect the priorities of a corporate management team who share the ‘America First’ perspective propounded by the current protectionist administration in power in Washington.

“The reality is that far from suffering increased financial pressures from a continued downturn there are signs of pick-up in the numbers of oil rigs globally. The Baker-Hughes rig count indicates that the total number has surged to 2,026 globally – an increase of 416 over the past year.

“Meanwhile Schlumberger has reported huge profits. In the third quarter of 2017 alone they reported a net income of $545 million and their pre-tax operating margin has grown from 11.6% to 13.4% in the twelve months to September 2017. This is not a company under pressure but one making considerable surpluses.

“Instead of investing that economic surplus or showing corporate responsibility to their workers they have chosen to prioritise the buy-back of their own shares to the benefit of their shareholders. In 2013 they commenced a six-year long $10 billion share buy-back scheme designed to enrich share-holders: earnings per share have risen from $0.25 to $0.42 in the last year alone.

“This is a company who are looking to further increase profits at the cost of workers. Unite rejects the logic of their proposal to close Newtownabbey and is already in discussions to put forward an alternative proposal to management”, Mr Pollock finished.

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