Jim Armitage: Threat to Western workers from lower-paid labour

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The Independent Online

Global Outlook Oil, gas and mining engineers have been living high on the hog for much of the last decade, thanks to the surging prices of commodities.

But something said by one of them to me today made me wonder how long the party's going to last.

They said that, while the money continues to be sky-high in riskier territories, Western engineers are being increasingly undercut by lower-paid workers from countries like India who are skilled but willing to work in dodgy areas for less money. Their skill levels aren't up to Western contractors' standards yet, but that's only a matter of time.

Western firms like BP spend a fortune ensuring their staff are safe – which is why it's so shocking when you get an incident like Algeria.

But I wonder whether firms from poorer nations, employing staff from poorer countries, will be so careful when they start running big plants in dangerous regions.