Ministers accused of having ‘job done’ attitude

Scottish ministers were accused last night of having a “job done” attitude to the challenges facing the oil and gas sector.

Tommy Campbell, regional industrial officer with the Unite union, said his initial reaction at the decision to close the energy jobs taskforce was one of disappointment.

He added: “People are still losing their jobs both off and onshore. On that basis the task group still has a job to do.”

Scottish Conservative energy spokesman Alexander Burnett also hit out at the SNP government.

He added: “People in the north-east will find it incredible that the SNP government thinks it is ‘job done’ as far as its efforts to help those affected by the downturn in oil and gas.

“I’m pleased that the UK Government is in it for the long haul, and I expect further support for the sector to be announced in the Budget this autumn.”

Balmoral Group chairman and managing director James Milne said it was “not good news at all”, adding: “The Scottish Government is always saying the UK Government is not helping, but they themselves just pay lip-service.

“There will be a lot of jobs still lost in Aberdeen unfortunately.

“That’s the case. There are green shoots showing but there’s a lot to be done.”

He also said the current downturn had been “deeper and longer” than any previously.

Labour North East MSP Lewis Macdonald added: “The Scottish Government has always been very reluctant to accept the scale of the challenge in particular in relation to jobs.

“It’s a bad decision. It’s far too early. Yes, there are grounds for being positive about prospects, but there are still people whose jobs are going to go and there’s still no certainty about what way we go next.”

But Russell Borthwick, chief executive of Aberdeen and Grampian Chamber of Commerce, insisted that, while there was still work to do, the taskforce had met its original brief.

He added: “The various partners must continue to do what needs to be done outside the framework of group.”

Professor Paul de Leeuw, director of the Oil and Gas Institute at Robert Gordon University, said there was always a point when a taskforce had to stop, adding: “It has achieved quite a lot.

“I think the industry is probably in a slightly better place now.”

The energy jobs taskforce, chaired by Scottish Enterprise, was set up in January 2015 in response to the oil downturn;

• Membership includes businesses, trades unions, the Scottish Government and local authorities;

• It has met 14 times over the course of its existence;

• Its final meeting will be held in Aberdeen on September 13 when a transition plan will be agreed;

• The Scottish Government says the group has provided business support for more than 800 companies facing challenges;

• The taskforce’s role in monitoring the sector’s health will be transferred to the oil and gas ILG, which is co-chaired by Paul Wheelhouse, minister for business, innovation and energy.

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