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Lack of information frustrates members in Nautilus consultation with Subsea 7

3 July 2020

Nautilus is continuing to resist redundancies for members at Subsea 7 after an intense few weeks of consultation.

The combined effect of the global pandemic and the lack of vessel utilisation was blamed for the threatened job cuts. In the worst-case scenario, the company anticipated losing 167 permanent crew, 272 non-permanent crew and 325 third-party crew, from all disciplines across project and marine.

However, Subsea 7 was hopeful of securing work so that many of these jobs could remain, and was looking to make cuts through voluntary rather than compulsory redundancy where possible.

Nautilus questioned in early June whether the management had taken appropriate measures to maintain the health of the company before turning to threats of redundancy.

Subsea 7 said it had suspended bonus schemes for senior managers and implemented a temporary 15% pay cut for the senior leadership team, as well as pausing external recruitment and cutting capital investment. The company had also made use of the UK government's coronavirus job retention scheme (furlough).

A collective consultation process was then started to limit job losses and ensure the best possible deal for anyone for whom redundancy was unavoidable. Frequent meetings have been taking place between Subsea 7 and Nautilus, led on the Union side by strategic organiser Lee Moon.

Agreements reached so far include the following:

  • The employer would follow the UK statutory minimum guidelines for redundancy, despite claims that there is no legal entitlement to redundancy pay under employees' Singapore contracts of employment.
  • An employee assistance programme would be put in place, along with a dedicated email address that employees can use for any concerns.
  • Nautilus will not enter into negotiations on a selection process, as this may jeopardise members' individual claims to unfair dismissal at a later stage.
  • An anonymous survey would be set up for employees to suggest cost-cutting measures other than redundancies, and this would be fed into the negotiations.
  • Although renewables contracts and crew are under different contracts to the employees affected by the proposed redundancies, any vacant positions in the renewables part of the business would be used to offer alternative employment.
  • The voluntary redundancy (VR) application deadline was extended to 12 July 2020. Early indications are that this has received some applications, but numbers will be given once the data has been collated after the closing date.
  • Non-permanent and active vacancies on new ships will be listed for suitable alternative employment, and payment in lieu of notice will be used where possible.

Discussions continue, with the next meeting to take place on 14 July 2020, but it is hoped that information requested by Nautilus - which has so far been withheld - will be forthcoming.

At the beginning of the process it was stated that the fleet would be 'reshaped' and up to 10 vessels would be laid up, sold or had their charter ended. The redundancies will then be made from the ships that are no longer part of the reshaped fleet.

'There is a genuine fear by members that Subsea 7 are using the global pandemic to lay seafarers off and rehire cheaper labour on reduced terms and conditions of employment,' Mr Moon said.

'The decisions appear to have been made without all of the facts and relevant data in place. It is unclear which ships will be on the list of those that will be cut and until then the entire fleet and all crew are concerned for their jobs.'  

Subsea 7 has been awarded more contracts in the last week but the threat of redundancies still looms.


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