Almost a third of the Angus workers at oil and gas firm Baker Hughes are at risk of redundancy.
A formal consultation process has started with more than 150 staff at the major Montrose employer, 30% of the workforce.
A meeting on Tuesday broke the news to staff.
It is understood that between 80 and 90 Angus jobs will be lost.
It follows reports at the end of May that workers were handed termination letters by company bosses.
Reasons for jobs cuts at Baker Hughes
The US-based firm is reeling from Covid-19 and the significant decline in oil and gas prices last year.
These factors led to lower subsea contract activity and an increase in project deferrals.
As Baker Hughes’ subsea centre of excellence, this impacts directly on Montrose.
“Given the long-cycle nature of our subsea business, Montrose is experiencing a reduction in backlog,” a Baker Hughes spokesperson said.
“Further to several proactive cost-control initiatives, we have announced a proposal for a reduction in force with up to 30% of the manufacturing workforce impacted in a group consultation.
“This proposal includes a phased approach following the consultation process and until the end of 2021.”
What is the long-term future for Baker Hughes Montrose?
Baker Hughes operates two sites in Montrose, at Charleton Road and Forties Industrial Estate on Brent Avenue.
It is one of the largest employers in Angus. It has one of the most advanced facilities of its kind in Montrose, after a £31 million investment two years ago.
The creation of the subsea centre of excellence, supported by a £5m Scottish Enterprise grant, led to it creating 160 jobs. Its Angus workforce was around 600 staff.
The Baker Hughes spokesperson adds: “We remain confident in the long-term prospect of subsea energy production.
“We will maintain our capabilities while reducing capacity in our Montrose subsea centre of excellence.”
The firm expects recovery in the sector next year.
“We see the subsea market slowly returning in 2022 and 2023,” the spokesperson adds.
“This may help future work volume to the Montrose Subsea CoE, our flagship facility, and we intend to stay here.
“Workforce reductions are a difficult part of our restructuring plan. This decision was not made lightly.
“We are working to limit the reductions as much as possible.”
After Tuesday’s meeting a Baker Hughes worker says he feels “sick”.
“I don’t know if I can survive this,” he says.
Oil and gas sector struggles
Baker Hughes described 2020 as “incredibly challenging” as it reported the year’s pre-tax loss of $15.2 billion in January.
It cut 15% of its workforce between March and November last year. Its global headcount fell from 68,000 to 58,000.
The Montrose site had a Covid outbreak earlier this year.