FEMALE oil and gas workers fear they are being deliberately targeted for job cuts because they are pregnant.
Citizen advice teams have been busy dealing with cases involving mothers-to-be who have been selected for redundancy during the ongoing energy crisis.
And a union chief also revealed there has been a growing number of staff being disciplined for “petty” incidents since the oil price slump.
The South West Aberdeenshire Citizen’s Advice Bureau (CAB) spoke out amid fears that the global drop in the cost of Brent crude could lead to thousands of job cuts in the North Sea.
Branch manager Eveline Crossan said: “We have seen additional inquiries from the oil and gas sector, which is not a traditional sector for us.
“We have seen women being selected for redundancy, who suspect it is because of their pregnancy and imminent maternity leave.
“We have also had an upsurge in calls from employees, men and women, very fearful that they are to lose their employment.
“There are also people who have clearly been very discouraged by the fact that they have been made redundant. We will help as best we can and hope people are able to get work quickly.”
Ms Crossan said one shocked woman expecting her second child had been told she was being considered for redundancy - despite high appraisals and a desire to return to work after maternity leave.
The woman claimed to be the only one in her department to be contacted about potentially losing her job.
Hundreds of oil and gas workers have lost their jobs within the last few months as a result of falling production levels. Rising production costs coupled with the slump in Brent crude prices have put the squeeze on firms operating in the North Sea.
Brent crude dropped to a six-year low of under 50 dollars a barrel in mid January from a high of around 115 dollars per barrel last summer.
And the Office for National Statistics (ONS) released figures this week that show firms operating in the North Sea had the lowest rate of return since 1997.
RMT regional organiser Jake Molloy said he has seen an increase in the number of oil workers being threatened with the sack.
He added: “I have been through a few of these downturns and regrettably a lot of employers exploit opportunities in situations like this, exploit opportunities to move people on for the most mundane and ridiculous charges.”
North East MSP Lewis Macdonald said people working in the oil and gas sector were feeling “insecure” due to looming job cuts.
But he said that anyone made redundant due to pregnancy would have a case for unfair dismissal.
Mr Macdonald added: “There will be more job losses to come and that is making people feel insecure.
“It is important that employers don’t discriminate if they are in that position.”
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