Newcastle oil worker ordered to resume job in Libya

A NORTH East oil rig worker has been told he must return to war-torn Libya or face being sued by his employers.

A NORTH East oil rig worker has been told he must return to war-torn Libya or face being sued by his employers.

He has been told by bosses that unless he returns to work immediately he will not be paid and they will pursue him for breach of contract.

The worker, from Newcastle, told how the situation has become a “nightmare” and has taken his case to his MP Catherine McKinnell.

Ms McKinnell, Labour MP for Newcastle North, raised her constituent’s issue in Parliament yesterday but was told the Government could do nothing to help him.

The man, who The Journal has agreed not to name, said: “I’ve worked in Libya for about 25 years. It’s very worrying and depressing. It’s a nightmare. I’m not saying that I wouldn’t go back out there if it is safe. But we don’t know what is happening.

“There will no doubt be many others like me. I got out just before the trouble started and haven’t been back since.”

After hearing of his plight Foreign Office Minister Alistair Burt said he “fully sympathised”, but added: “It’s not possible for the UK Government to underwrite every broken contract that will have arisen because of the conflict. There is nothing that can be done to provide financial assistance.”

Mr Burt said it was essential the war ended “as soon as possible so work on reconstruction can begin and contracts can be replaced”.

Ms McKinnell told the Journal last night: “The minister’s reply on this case was really disappointing.

“It’s also very frustrating that my inquiries on behalf of my constituent have been passed backwards and forwards over the last couple of months between the Treasury and Foreign Office as neither party seems to want to take responsibility for providing any assistance to this man, and the many other UK citizens who are finding themselves in the same position.

“My constituent is not being paid, he is not entitled to receive any support in this country but also cannot return to his place of work – particularly because the Foreign Office understandably continues to advise against all travel to Libya. He has also been threatened with legal action for breach of contract.

“This man now finds himself in an impossible situation, and I don’t think it’s too much to ask for the British Government to provide assistance to British citizens.”

The oil worker, aged in his 60s added: “I’m really grateful for what Catherine has done for me. It doesn’t surprise me the response she got from MPs.

“Does anybody ever get a good response from MPs? I certainly didn’t expect one.”

Meanwhile, Tory Peter Bone, MP for Wellingborough, accused the Government of “taking sides in a civil war” rather than implementing United Nations Security Council Resolution 1973, which authorised action to protect civilians.

Foreign Secretary William Hague said: “We are enforcing the UNSCR. Unless we were taking the military action we were taking, then the Gaddafi regime would be able to harass and murder large numbers of the people in Libya.”

 
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