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Did BP Oil Spill Clean-up End Too Soon?

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Pensacola, FLThe news in recent days about the successful and permanent closure of the well responsible for the BP oil spill comes as welcome news. If government observers are to be believed, the majority of the millions of gallons of BP crude oil that leaked into the Gulf of Mexico have already dispersed. However, some oil spill clean-up workers who found themselves suddenly laid off after the crisis passed believe there is still work to do.

The 9/19/10 edition of the Pensacola News-Journal reveals that several hundred clean-up workers recruited through various employment agencies to help with the oil spill clean-up worked for 100 days armed with shovels, trash bags and buckets. Then, on August 25, they were abruptly sent home.

"They told us we were being completely laid off," lamented Mary Greiwisch, a temp employee now suddenly without a job. What's more, while some individuals recruited for Gulf of Mexico oil spill clean-up detail were hired through reputable employment firms, there are allegations that some less savory operators sprung out of the woodwork when they saw the chance to make a fast buck.

Did the clean-up end too soon?

Mark Robinson, who has a degree in biology and works full-time, took a clean-up job because he thought it to be a good way to help the area recover from the oil spill. Robinson told the News-Journal that he couldn't escape the feeling that there was more to be done.

"Down four to six inches you could find some big chunks. Platter-sized chunks," he said. "You weren't supposed to reach into the sand because there was supposedly this risk of contaminated needles. To me, that people are out there going over and over the beach, and they're not getting it, is a tremendous waste of resources."

Were opportunists a factor?

There were some reputable employment agencies involved in recruiting for the oil spill disaster. Robinson worked for two of the better ones, Manpower and Adecco. Houston-based Plant Performance Services, known popularly as P2S, was hired directly by British Petroleum to run the Qualified Community Responder Program. Those recruited by P2S report a positive experience, unhappy as they are that the clean-up effort has been scaled back.

However, other workers hired through other agencies do not share such a positive view. Charlie Burris, a 44-year-old Floridian from Pensacola, described his experience as "a nightmare."

Burris told the News-Journal, "There were some really creative people to come out of the woodwork during this oil spill. Those guys found they could find employees, pass that information onto contractors and skim a dollar or two an hour off that person's salary."

The News-Journal reported that dozens of staffing agencies appeared in the aftermath of the worst off-shore oil spill in US history, setting up recruiting tents in parking lots and peppering Craigslist with promising jobs. Burris himself reported applying to ten different staffing agencies, many of which quickly disappeared almost as fast as they arrived.

"They sucked up info, and no one ever heard from them again. They either didn't get a contract, or they just ran off with our info and sold it to other companies," Burris said.

Rates of pay varied dramatically. Workers recruited by P2S were paid $18 to $20 per hour at the peak of the clean-up. Supervisors were paid $32 an hour. Workers were toiling up to 80 hours per week.

However, the P2S situation was not mirrored in workers represented by some other agencies, who were risking potential health problems for about $10 an hour and perhaps one or two shifts per week.

And if the clean-up was scaled back, or abandoned too soon, what impact will that have on residents and businesses affected by the BP oil spill? Tavarez Richardson, who participated in a P2S clean-up crew for the BP Gulf of Mexico oil spill, told the News-Journal that when he was laid off, it felt as if there was still work to be done.


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Posted by

I worked for P2S oil spill clean up crews from 6/12/10 to 8/15/10. When we took the job we were told it would last 18 months or more. On aug 13/2010 P2S high manager came to florida and we had a meeting and gave us all letters stateing that we were takeing a pay cut "but there would absolutely be no lay offs. Two days later" we were laid off and a month after that received a call from P2S saying theres no longer a need for our services. There are hundreds of us feeling like we were just screw'd


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