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Province probing 'local first' concerns


The provincial government was asked about local first hiring in the offshore and whether or not the Accord Acts need to get more specific on the subject.

Siobhan Coady.

As reported in The Weekend Telegram, the paper discovered evidence of the level of local interest in offshore positions, with 1,700 applications for jobs with the West Hercules drill rig alone. The crew roster ultimately included about 100 locals to start, on total team of only about 200 people, but leaving many local job seekers to continue on their hunt.

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1,700 applications, 100 local hires

Some workers on the job search, and working internationally, have said more positions could be made available to locals, to increase the chances of getting hired.

Their argument extends beyond a single case, to include expat staffing on seismic vessels and offshore construction vessels as well as drilling rigs.

In the case of the West Hercules, rig owner Seadrill said expat staff were working the rig in the North Sea and had come to the province with the drilling unit for a planned 18-month work program, to bring expertise and add safety to the operation, when compared to an entirely new crew.

The Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board (CNLOPB) signed off on the crewing plan, agreeing the short time frame warranted the expat allowance, also meaning the existing team would not have to be let go, only to be sought again once the rig went back to the North Sea.

But workers say the board should push more for local hires.

“We are concerned about the reports we are hearing and have spoken to the CNLOPB on this issue,” said Minister Siobhan Coady, in a statement provided by the Department of Natural Resources late Friday afternoon.

“They are working to ensure that the benefits plans are being followed and companies are working to increase their complement of workers from N.L,” she stated. “We need to do everything possible to ensure this is the case.”

The CNLOPB tasks operating oil companies to ensure its contractors are, before operations ever begin, living up to expectations as set out in the Atlantic Accords. The regulator does not maintain a register of qualified Newfoundlanders and Labradorians working internationally; it does not track where contractors advertise for available positions and it does not make a point to track the numbers of resident applicants when there are new ships and rigs coming into the region and offering positions.

The board provides oversight of offshore hiring, keeping crew rosters and succession plans on file, providing a view of the number of local residents versus foreign workers during operations, broken down by position, with opportunity for follow-up.

The CNLOPB encourages workers who apply for a job but are not successful in obtaining it to first reach out to the company’s human resources representative, to ask if areas of their CV require improvement, if the decision relates to their interview, or if sheer competition for a limited number of positions is to blame.

The Telegram was told the board will investigate complaints made in relation to hiring and encourages workers to reach out if they feel a particular company’s practices need review, or even their own case.

Anonymous complaints are accepted but, board staff have said, they are harder to dig into, as general responses satisfy general questions.

Jobs on oil industry ships or rigs are extremely limited number. Right now, workers in contact with The Telegram say one fewer expat employee is one more position a local can have a chance at, but there remains no clear line as to how many expat versus local positions are to be expected.

The legislation, like CNLOPB regulations, does not explicitly indicate where the Board will start pressing companies to bring on more locals.

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