Local staff voice concerns over termination notice

National 2 minutes, 53 seconds

BELAIT

LOCAL staff of an oil and gas contractor have voiced out their concerns recently over the company’s move to terminate their employment and the way it was handled.

Recently retrenched employees have told The Brunei Times that this is likely a result of downsizing across the board as the industry grapples with the crippling effect of the global oil price slump.

On Monday, four ex-employees of a “top five oil and gas company worldwide” revealed that their former company had begun a planned series of staff reductions in mid-March.

Last Friday, eight employees, including the four concerned, received their termination notices.

“Ten of us have so far been released, and more will be next,” said the informal spokesperson for the group, who said that all ten staff members were technicians and engineers from the same drilling department.

According to them, rumours of downsizing had been spreading since early 2015, with news reaching their ears of others in rival companies losing their jobs as companies attempt to contract in manpower with no new projects being planned for the immediate future.

Nevertheless, their termination was received with shock because of the manner it was delivered.

“I came in to work as normal on that day. Two hours later, I was called in by my manager and informed of my termination and no explanation was given. I was asked to leave immediately,” said one, who had worked for more than a year. Others said that they received same-day notice.

All of them had received one month's salary compensation, regardless of years of service, with the most experienced having served the company for more than eight years. Those who had served fewer than five years also claim that they never received a copy of the “Employee’s Handbook”, which outlines terms of termination.

While accepting that contractually, the company was unlikely to have infringed on employee rights, the former employees feel that the sudden termination was unfair and lacked compassion, particularly given the current state of the industry.

“How much we committed to the company and they did it like this… One month is too little time for us to do anything. There aren't going to be any jobs available for people of our skills as other companies are also downsizing,” said the same source.

According to the group, they had attempted to seek justification for their termination but the company's management was unable to provide any.

The group told _The Brunei Times _that they were worried for their future, with one newly married, another just out of maternity leave, and another expecting a child.

“Even if we wanted to start a business now, we don't have capital. I don't even know how I'm going to pay for my bills next month,” said another.

The group said that it was not seeking for redress, but was hoping to see some action from the authorities to ensure that local workers who lose employment in the coming months will receive fairer treatment and redundancy packages.

The Brunei Times met with the company's human resource manager at its office in Belait, but was told that she could not comment without authorisation from the global-level department.

The Labour Department in Kuala Belait confirmed that it has been receiving visits from former employees with similar issues but said that it was unable to respond, having redirected the issues to the Local Workforce and Development Agency (APTK). APTK could not comment at time of reporting.

The Brunei Times