Schlumberger worker in plea: 'For crying out loud, help us'

Oil and gas production firm Schlumberger plans to close its Newtownabbey operation next year
Gary McDonald Business Editor

A WORKER at the seemingly doomed Newtownabbey oil plant Schlumberger has begged the zombied political parties on the edge of Stormont to "help me save Christmas for my kids".

And in a heartfelt plea he said: "Can't the politicians put their troubles aside and look after us working people?"

He was speaking after the French-headquartered oilfield services group Schlumberger said last week that it is proposing to shut its Belfast operation next year with the loss of 220 jobs.

It blames the pending closure on "the most severe downturn of the past 30 years" - yet that's despite Newtownabbey having an order book understood to be worth £30 million.

Schlumberger claimed that its manufacturing plants globally are currently under-utilised, which is why is is considering ceasing manufacturing, assembly and test activities in Belfast in 2018.

One of the Newtownabbey operation's workers (who asked not to be named) contacted the Irish News and said: "We're shocked at the speed of this proposed closure as early as next March, because our facility has one of the healthiest order books in all of Schlumberger.

"Some customers are specifically asking for products to be made by our plant due to the exceptional quality and standards we work to. So why the sudden and completely unexpected announcement of closure?"

Most of the work is reportedly being sent to China, Mexico and America, which the worker claimed is "sacrificing quality" to reduce the cost of production.

"But what no one seems to be talking about is the sheer speed at which this closure is expected to happen after the announcement, a matter of months when most facilities have a wind down of years," he said.

"The general consensus of workers here is that Schlumberger wants to fast-track our closure because they don't want it to run in line with an upturn in oil prices, which we already see signs of happening, which will make it much harder for them to justify closing Newtownabbey."

And he then added: "We need Stormont now more than ever. Politicians need to put their troubles aside and look after us working people.

"For crying out loud . . . . more than 200 highly-skilled jobs are at risk here.

"I speak for every worker at the Newtownabbey plant when I say this: No money they offer us to close is enough. We don't want a short term payout. We just want job security and to be able to tell our loved ones and children that Christmas is still on and that we can still put a roof over their heads."

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