Disgruntled former employees seeking payment of bonuses promised by Petrofac have this week received the backing of Shetland’s Liberal Democrat candidate Tavish Scott.
The problem recently came to light following a decision by ex-employees of the Shetland Gas Plant to pursue legal action against the company. These former staff members claim Petrofac have refused to award bonuses which they were contractually obliged to pay out.
One employee who has inquired about legal action was Ashley Manson. Formerly of Shetland, she worked for Petrofac from July 2013 until December last year. She has since relocated to Liverpool.
Miss Manson says that attempts were made to settle the case amicably but ex-staff have become increasingly frustrated that the matter has not been resolved. Many saw no other option than to seek legal assistance from a solicitor.
Miss Manson claims that since moving job she has reached out to other former employees of Petrofac’s Shetland Gas Plant and found that “around 40 or 50” were experiencing similar problems.
She said this group had decided to hire legal assistance at a cost of roughly £500 a head, a fee they are willing to foot because the bonuses they claim are due to them run into the thousands.
Miss Manson explained that when she and her ex-colleagues tried to address the issue with Petrofac directly they “were all sent the same regurgitated response about ‘criteria’.”
She, and other employees, claim they were never made aware of this criteria in their contract of employment.
Frustrations were compounded during email correspondence between Petrofac and the ex-staff members because the pursuers received responses from “a different person every time”.
Many of the emails asked for written evidence of eligibility for bonuses to be produced before the money could be paid. Miss Manson went on to claim that the disgruntled ex-employees were redirected towards a new email account set up to deal specifically with correspondence about delayed payments of bonuses.
Mr Scott said: “I am very disappointed that Petrofac are dragging their feet in paying contracted sums to their workers.
“It is not right that people have to use solicitors to get the money they are due. Petrofac should pay their bills.”
He added: “I am told that it is not just individual men and women who still are due money. A number of Shetland businesses have mentioned this to me as well.
“This is now about the reputation of the company. They should pay their bills both to staff and local suppliers without delay.”
A Petrofac spokesman said: “Petrofac can confirm that a completion bonus was applied as part of the exit arrangements for workers employed on the Laggan Tormore project.
“This bonus is linked in accordance to a specific qualifying criteria and Petrofac has introduced a fair and consistent process to assess the validity of each claim.
“All claims that fully satisfy the criteria will be paid in full.”