BSP to review non-essential staff

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BRUNEI Shell Petroleum (BSP) will review the size of its workforce in order to cut costs and reduce non-essential staff in a time of weak global oil prices, said the Minister of Energy and Industry yesterday.

Speaking during the 12th Session of Legislative Council (LegCo), Yang Berhormat Pehin Datu Singamanteri Colonel (Rtd) Dato Seri Setia (Dr) Hj Mohammad Yasmin Hj Umar said the size of the workforce is market-driven and that BSP will have to review its operational needs in order to stay competitive and cost-effective.

He said BSP, of which the government is a 50 per cent shareholder, has already ceased creating new positions and may not renew the contracts of some staff employed under local-term contracts (LTC).

Local BSP workers are divided into two categories: LTC staff who are employed on a two to three-year basis subject to the company’s operating needs, and long-term regular staff whose contract only expires upon reaching retirement age.

“Organisation rightsizing is commonly practised in other companies, and BSP is no exception,” said YB Pehin Dato Hj Mohammad Yasmin. “LTC contract extension is based on the company’s needs … There is no guarantee that a contract will be extended automatically.”

He added that in order to minimise the impact on local workers, the Energy and Industry Department at the Prime Minister’s Office (EIDPMO) will continue to monitor all oil and gas companies’ plans to lay-off local staff. Companies must have “strong and valid reasons” to terminate staff, and are required to consult EIDPMO on any retrenchment plans, the minister said.

Staff who have not been performing well will be given six months to improve through a ‘Performance Improvement Plan’, after which BSP management will review their progress and take further action.

BSP employees who have reached retirement age will also have their contracts reviewed to determine whether they are still essential to the company’s operational needs.

The minister went on to say that over the next five years the company is aiming to lower the number of foreign workers by 10 per cent each year. In 2015, BSP was able to meet this target by reducing 75 foreigners.

BSP currently employs 4,347 people, comprising 85 per cent locals (3,686) and 15 per cent foreigners (661).

However, “job relocation” will not be a possibility for all laid-off staff.

“(The reason) some local employees find it difficult to get jobs at other companies is because they are reaching retirement age; have disciplinary issues and unsatisfactory work performance; or are non-technical staff such as clerks, receptionists or office assistants,” he explained.

The energy minister said BSP is also undertaking several other cost-cutting measures, such as giving priority to higher-value projects; reducing or deferring smaller projects; and reducing expenses on materials and supplies.

The Brunei Times

Updated at 3.27pm