A commando hero who twice fought for his country in Iraq is now standing at the roadside with a sandwich board trying to get a job.
Michael Graham, 34, is living in a van, cooking on a camping stove with his interview suit hanging in the back, and pounding the streets to look for work offshore.
The Durham father-of-two has been searching for employment for more than a year and has visited 33 oil and gas companies and job agencies and sent out more than 100 CVs but has not yet had a single offer.
> Join the club, mate, join the club…
The former Royal Marine pledges not to give up however and has had a sandwich board made to place beside the road in Aberdeen, 275 miles from his Durham home.
On his sign he list the courses he has done and effort he has made to get a job on an oil rig.
“So far, it’s proving my hardest battle,” said Michael.
“When I joined the Marines I was determined to do it. I got through training that’s among the hardest in the British military.
“It’s the same with getting offshore. I’m putting 100 per cent into it.”
Michael spent more than five years in the Royal Marines, serving with 45 Commando at Arbroath, north east of Dundee in Scotland.
Now all the Durham dad wants is for a manager driving to work to see his sign. He said he wants to earn a good wage for wife Claire and sons Archie, three, and seven-month-old Max.
On Sunday, he got in his van and drove 275 miles north from his home in Durham to do the rounds of possible employers in Scotland’s oil capital.
Michael said: “I started off on Monday and spent the day in my suit, going round all the agencies and companies. I’ve been to 33 in total.
“It’s just a case of hoping to hear something back from them.
“I’ve done the same companies two or three times and they’re telling me I have no offshore experience.”
Despite the bosses’ doubts, Michael insists his Commando training has prepared him perfectly for rig work.
“It’s one harsh climate to another, from Iraq to the North Sea,” he said.
“But that’s what I would find interesting and challenging.
“I’d go as a cleaner and try and work my way up. That’s the idea. I’d rather start at the bottom and work my way up on the drill floor.”
Michael’s wife Claire, 29, said her husband spent hours on his laptop researching his trip to Aberdeen before he set off.
And the mum-of-two said the former Marine would be an asset to any company.
She said: “He is a hard worker and he is used to harsh environments.
“A lot of people go onto rigs and then struggle as they are not used to working away from home.”
Claire urged oil firms to give him a chance.
She said: “He is determined and he is trying his best to get a job.
“He wants to work on the rigs and I would never stop him doing what he wants to do.
“I just hope something comes of it.”
Source – Newcastle Evening Chronicle, 09 July 2014
The Scottish National Party has told the North East an independent Scotland would welcome its workers with open arms.
The SNP said the region should see independence as offering an alternative to London’s dominance over the North East, a claim few of the region’s MPs appeared to agree with.
Instead, there were warnings yesterday of border chaos and towns reduced to “currency exchange kiosks” if a yes vote is returned in this year’s referendum.
Phil Wilson (Sedgefield – Blair’s successor) led MPs yesterday in a parliamentary debate on the impact of independence on the region’s economy.
Citing a Journal report from last year in which First Minister Alex Salmond told the North East it had no better friend than Scotland, the Sedgefield MP questioned the reality of that relationship.
He said: “To the SNP’s internal Scottish audience, the English are those from whom the SNP wants independence, but to the North East of England, according to Alex Salmond, we are Scotland’s closest friends.
“Call me old-fashioned, but I would not close the door on my closest friends by asking for independence from the rest of the UK.”
> Scotland is our next door neighbour – a good deal closer than the London city state.
SNP MP Angus MacNeil denied the possibility that a new border would hinder trade.
He told MPs: “The point of the SNP is to put the Scottish people first, rather than power struggles in London, which, unfortunately, is the point of the London parties.
“It is all about who is in government in London, and that is not for the good of the people of Sighthill, Skye or Lewis.
“That is an awful tragedy. It should also be in our interest in Scotland to ensure that the good people of the North East of England are benefiting as much as those in the regions of Scotland.
“I look forward to the day I witness people from the North East of England finding chances of employment in Scotland, rather than having to go far afield to the South East of England.”
> Amen to that !
Berwick Liberal Democrat Sir Alan Beith said the fact was that day-to-day trade would be changed if Scotland broke away from the United Kingdom.
He said: “That activity is not impossible with independence, we should not overstate the case, but it would become more difficult and the likelihood of administrative barriers being erected is that much greater.
“There are a whole series of reasons why anyone living near the border, unless they see their future entirely as a town of currency exchange kiosks and smugglers, would think that we are much better together.”
Also warning against a yes vote was Hexham Conservative Guy Opperman. He told MPs: “The boundary between Scotland and the rest of the UK would, by definition, become an international border between two separate states, with everything that entails.
“The evidence locally in the North East, whether from farming bodies or the North East chamber of commerce, is extensive.
> farming bodies or the North East chamber of commerce… oh yes, very representive of the population at large – and, I suspect, two groups from which Mr Opperman draws his support come election time.
“There is huge concern that this will have an impact on trade, businesses and jobs.
> Bigger than that caused by policies imposed by the London-based ConDem government, unrepresented in the NE except by Mr Opperman ?
The possible problems rising from Scottish independence are conjecture. The problems caused by policies imposed from the London posh boys are REAL.
“I met a number of oil and gas producers, several of whom are building huge sites on the Tyne at the moment. The two biggest construction sites are for construction projects in the North Sea.
“The producers are concerned that, if there were independence, those projects would be affected, and there would be greater difficulties.”
Source – Newcastle Journal, 05 Mar 2014