Shell is to shift nearly 400 jobs overseas as it looks to shore up its finances against persistently low oil prices by hiring cheaper workers in the developing world.
The Anglo-Dutch company told 380 staff at its finance operations in Glasgow that the office would be closed and they were facing “involuntary severance”.
Scottish MPs said the announcement was a “devastating blow” to staff.
The jobs will be moved over a 15-month period to locations such as Shell’s offices in Chennai in India and Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia.
The overall effect on Shell’s headcount will be negligible, although the firm has announced 12,500 job cuts since last year.
Senior managers told staff of the looming cuts at the Bothwell Street office at a meeting on Wednesday.
Speaking after the meeting, a Shell spokesperson said: “For Shell to remain competitive, difficult choices continue to have to be made to improve efficiency and value for money across all of our businesses and functions. Employees currently based in the Glasgow office will likely face involuntary severance.”
Shell signalled earlier this year that more staff could be affected, as it tries to trim costs as rock-bottom oil prices continue to dent profits.
“This decision is driven by increasing pressures on our business to reduce cost and generate cash, and reflects the fact that the capability of our other centres has evolved to be able to handle the activities that are currently performed in Glasgow, but at a significantly lower cost,” Shell said.
“We understand this is very difficult news for employees. During the transition period we are committed to ensuring ongoing regular employee engagement and support.”
The Scottish Liberal Democrat energy spokesperson, Liam McArthur MSP, said: “This news will be a devastating blow to those directly affected and their families. We cannot afford to lose these skills and every effort must be made to provide training and advice to give workers the best chance to secure new roles.
“It is also important that Scottish and UK governments look again at the tax regime and take urgent action to stop decommissioning contracts floating away from Scotland to our international competitors.”
Annie Wells, the Scottish Conservative Glasgow MSP, said Shell’s decision was “regrettable”.
“The movement of jobs abroad is a challenging issue and it is as important as ever that both the UK and Scottish governments work together to ensure that things pick up in the future. The only silver lining to this story is that the announcement has been made over a year ahead of most employees leaving the company,” she said.
“I would urge the Scottish government therefore to use this time, along with its agencies, to make sure the process of redundancy is made as comfortable as possible for the workers and their families.”
The Glasgow office is part of a division that manages financial reporting, corporate governance risk and travel and expenditure.
By Rob Davies and Severin Carrell
Source: The Guardian
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