Retrenched employees: Promises were made

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A GROUP of former oil and gas workers has spoken out about their post-oil and gas life, after being unemployed last November when their company’s projects in Brunei were terminated.

Comprising 10 former employees of a regional offshore construction company, the group, through their appointed spokesperson Hj Safudin Hj Bungsu, claims that they were misled into thinking that they would be employed at different companies under a “roll-over” agreement.

A Belait local, 57-year old Hj Safudin, was the “electrical design/construction team leader” for a project that was terminated by the provider.

He, along with 14 others, was the first batch of employees to be discharged under the company’s “demobilisation” plan in November.

“We were actually prepared as we understood earlier that our project had been terminated. We were made to understand that we would be taken care of, as the new company taking over the project would also take us on as employees as part of ‘roll-over’,” said Hj Safudin.

The actual day of termination still came as a surprise, as they were never informed of how it was going to happen or when. The termination letter asked employees to leave with immediate effect, with a month’s salary paid in lieu of notice.

In a separate letter addressed to the Energy Department under the Prime Minister’s Office (EDPMO), the names and details of the 15 employees were delivered along with CVs, with the company requesting EDPMO to assist with the roll-over.

Over the course of the next few months, an EDPMO senior official liaisoned with one of their former employees, and later, with Hj Safudin. Assurances continued to be given, but by the end of February, it appeared that roll-over negotiations had broken down.

“It was very frustrating for us. We had loans to pay off, bills… it’s been four months now and the banks are pressuring us. We have all tried to seek employment on our own. I myself have received pre-conditional offers from several companies but none are able to offer contracts until these companies are approved for new projects… this isn’t likely to happen with the condition of the oil and gas industry now,” said Hj Safudin. “Of the first batch, six of us are still left unemployed today.”

When contacted, the EDPMO representative who was in touch with Hj Safudin acknowledged the situation but said that he was unable to provide a statement.

The Brunei Times