On February 13, 2006, the management of McDermott Caspian Contractors, Inc. (MCCI), the Caspian operating subsidiary of J. Ray McDermott, S.A. (J. Ray), announced to all employees a number of steps that are being taken following resolution of industrial action in November 2005, McDermott announced on Tuesday. MCCI confirms that base rate wages (hourly rate) and salaries for all Azerbaijani staff were increased by 20% effective 1 December 2005, and by a further 12% on 1 January 2006, Trend reports.
Unconnected with the industrial action, all hourly paid employees working on the topsides fabrication project on 30 November 2005 received a one month pro rata salary bonus on 21 December 2005, to mark the successful completion of the WA Topsides project for the phase 2 development AIOCs Azeri, Chirag and deepwater portion of the Gunashli fields.
It is typical of project cycles that a period of growing activity and increasing employment is followed by reduced activity and employment as work is completed, and MCCI is beginning to experience this effect as 2006 progresses, commented Dan Houser, Vice President & General Manager, Caspian operations. In managing the decrease in activity levels, one of our prime objectives is to sustain employment for Azerbaijani employees wherever possible.
An overall comparison for the period from November 6, 2005 to February 12, 2006 shows that the number of Azerbaijani employees has decreased from 1,999 to 1,979 with the reduction of 20 people, equivalent to about 1% of the local employees. For the same time period, the number of foreign workers has been reduced from 509 to 375 people, a decrease of 134 people equivalent to 26.3%.
From these figures we hope that both our employees and the public will understand the reality of the having to maintain staff levels compatible with the workload. On the topsides projects, we have been helped in achieving our objectives by the activity of a working group which has developed a number of initiatives to help increase the percentage of Azerbaijani citizens in the workforce, continued Houser. Currently, there are no foreign workers amongst riggers, crane and heavy equipment operators, structural fitters, structural and piping welders, and electrical maintenance workers. Overall, Azerbaijani craftsmen make up over 86% of our hourly workforce.