While we all work hard at the things we chose to do as a “career”, there will always be times when you look at the people around you and say, “What the fuck are these guys thinking?!” A similar situation happen to me at my job recently, which of course sparked me to vent (aka – tweet) what was said. What followed was a barrage of tweets from all different directions, some hammering me with all kinds of different rebuttals. One particular tweet from @Ana1Sima caught my eye as we started discussing “uplift” and how it effects workers in Wood Buffalo (both Fly In/Fly Out and Local Hires). Before I start explaining shit, here is the tweet from @Ana1Sima. There were a few additional tweets involved in the conversation, but this is general the one I want to respond to:
Let’s get technical. An uplift in wage is given to those who have to work in undesirable places, like what some people would say the town of Ft Mcmurray is, site or say Iraq.
I would say if you are a true local (aka own a home in that city or region OR do not own a home at all anywhere else) you would not be receiving an “uplift” as this is where home is. Renters in Ft Mac and people living in camp are still being forced to live away from their true homes, thus both being eligable for the “uplift” to wage. Both are equal in this respect.
Difference then being the other two “perks” you get that sets camp and in town workers apart. The actual travel allowance for having to drive or in most cases get driven 80kms to get to work each way, should be for non-camp only, obviously. Then there’s the living premium. Another obvious. If you live in camp, you have no outside cost so should not be entitled to this.
That all being said, reading back a tweet of yours, you said these workers worked for the client. I’m going to assume you mean the oil company direct. This is where I think big oil makes a huge mistake when putting together their hire packages. You want to make your employee package more desirable then say your subcontractor’s packages. This is not the case when it comes to entry and mid-level positions, and in my opinion the positions that do the most hands on work.
This is a big mistake that ultimately costs big oil more money than had they made these packages desirable. If I were big oil, I would want to recruit the best of the hiring pool… by offering these less then stellar packages they are getting the bottom of the barrel or desperate and to what end? Saving a couple bucks an hour? Why would anyone with half a brain take a lesser package? Oh wait, big oil always likes to throw out that they have job security whereas the subs could be out on their ass at any moments notice. This may be the case with poorly managed sub-companies, but if you are smart, before signing on with a sub, you do your homework and don’t apply to these companies.
Look at me, off on a tangent. At the end of the day, no matter who you work for (in terms of staff), only you are at fault for your own wage/perk package that you signed for. Complaining after the fact is just dumb and makes you look it. I’d fire those people and reach back down to the bottom of that barrel again if I came across such people. Oh wait, I’d offer better packages, to get better and happier employees.
FYI When I worked in the town of Ft Mac, I received “uplift”. Funny how that works 😉
Now, lets get some definitions down:
Fly In/Fly Out – this is a type of worker that chooses to fly directly into either the jobsite or Fort McMurray but stays in company-provided camps. CNRL, Suncor Firebag and Shell Albian Sands are a few examples of oil companies that have this option for their direct employees and contractors.
Local Hire – this is a type of worker that owns or rent a residence in Fort McMurray.
Relocated Employee – this is a type of worker that was hired “out of town” but was moved into Fort McMurray by their employer.
Uplift – this is the amount of money that is added to your salary based on premiums (ie – Travel Allowance, Shift Differential, Stat Holidays etc etc). For example, if my base salary was $100,000/year and I got an an extra $10,000/year as a Travel Allowance, then my “Uplift” would be 10%. Hope that is easy enough figures for everyone.
I’m not going to say which oil company I work for, but it’s not that hard to figure out. Besides, of the big oil companies out there the Compensation Packages are almost all the same regardless of who you work for, with only a few NOT offering Fly In/Fly Out positions. Of course, each company has their own perks when it comes to Local Hires and their incentives. So with that said, let me give you some the basic compensation package information for your typical oil company in Fort McMurray.
Without getting into particular details and benefit information, all companies offer a base salary or specific hourly wage. On top of the base salary, an Uplift is then given for Stat Holidays, Vacation and a few other small things. Next is where things get separated based on the type of worker you are. If your a Local Hire, your Uplift will also include Travel Allowance, Fort McMurray Living Premiums, and Housing Allowances. If your a Fly In/Fly Out, your Uplift DOES NOT include those items which can sometimes be an additional 20% on top of your base salary.
My particular company offers a Fly In/Fly Out Program; which means they will fly you directly to site from certain areas in the province, provide your camp room and meals during your shift, then fly you back. If you choose this option, your Uplift does NOT include a Travel Allowance, Fort McMurray Living Premiums or a Housing Allowance. This is where my original tweet came from as Fly In/Fly Out workers were bitching that THEY should get paid a bigger Uplift then the people that lived in Fort McMurray…and to me, that makes absolutely ZERO sense which in turn, makes them FUCKING IDIOTS for saying such a stupid comment.
As I’ve said before, I believe that if you’re going to work in an area then you need to move into and support that area. I hear some people in camp whine and cry about how they spend all these days away from their families. They try for sympathy about how difficult it is to live in camp and how hard it is to have a personal life. They complain that their food, which they get for free, is “gross and disgusting”. Sorry folks, but that’s a load of 100% BULLSHIT. I’m an Army Brat. I grew up living in a different place every 2 years and the one thing I learned was the value of change and how beneficial it is to accept it. It is extremely easy to move into Fort McMurray and reap the benefits of living in the worlds most diverse and growing community. People complain about the housing prices and for the most part they’re right; but when your making six figures a year, a $700,000 mortgage isn’t that complicated to manage if you spent the time to think it through. One of the best things oil companies were doing was relocating employees to Fort McMurray. This was an incredible idea that had companies pay to move an employee and their families into the region; but unfortunately it seems to be a thing of the past.
Now look, before people get all bitchy I know everyone has a different personal situation. Some people really enjoy the Fly In/Fly Out and it works better for their families. I’m sure it has it’s benefits and if your not complaining about your free living space or free food then this is not meant for you. This rant is meant for the people that think they’re making a huge life sacrifice and think they should be paid more then the local folks that make the travel back and forth to site every day. My message to you is this; move your families to Fort McMurray, ESPECIALLY if your company will cover the moving expenses. This place is amazing to live in and we are quite literally on the fore-front of Canada’s future!
I do think that Local Hires should get paid more then Fly In/Fly Out for the simple fact that we dedicated ourselves to the region. We support and invest in the community, fight the “high prices” and as we learned during the recent Forest Fires in May 2011, we are vital to a project; especially when Camps are evacuated and flights can’t land. Like I said, this is is not meant to be a hatred toward commuters. If your comfortable in your decisions and enjoy the life you chose then more power to you. But if you think Camp life is better then Fort McMurray, openly brag about it and think you should be paid more because of it; you’re sadly mistaken!!