MIRI: Employees of oil-giant Sarawak Shell are seeking Government help to stop an impending large-scale retrenchment exercise to be carried out by the oil and gas producer throughout this state.
The Sarawak Shell Staff Union, which represents 2,700 workers, submitted a memorandum of appeal on Saturday to the state government through Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Dr George Chan Hong Nam, pleading with the Government to intervene to save their jobs.
Union secretary Solomon Nayup and a delegation of top union officials met with Dr Chan at the Sarawak United People's Party Miri headquarters here and appealed to Dr Chan to forward their plight to the higher state and Federal authorities.
Nayup said the management of Sarawak Shell had already notified its staff of the impending retrenchment.
''We, the union, want the management of Shell to implement a scheme that will see redeployment of staff instead of embarking on the retrenchment exercise.
''We are of the view that there are still many places where Shell can accommodate Sarawak workers. If they insist on carrying out the retrenchment, we want the government to help ensure we get higher compensation.
''Shell has said the retrenchment will see foreign workers being asked to leave first, but Shell did not give any guarantee that locals will not be retrenched en-masse also.
''Shell has not given any figures of how many workers in Sarawak will be retrenched. We are worried a lot will be asked to leave,'' he said when interviewed after meeting Dr Chan.
Nayup said Shell had not given any specific date on when the retrenchment will start, but the management had made it clear that the retrenchment exercise was imminent.
He said many Shell employees, especially the young ones, are worried that they might not be able to find proper jobs if they were retrenched.
Due to the current unsteady economic situation, it would be difficult to secure new jobs, he stressed.
Dr Chan, when asked for his comments, said he would speak to the Shell top management in the state and country and also at its regional headquarters in Singapore on the matter.
''From the information I have obtained, Shell is carrying out a downsizing exercise not only in Sarawak, but also throughout the world in order to cut operation costs.
''It would be a pity if the workers here in Sarawak are retrenched because they are highly-skilled. They can be re-deployed to other sectors within Shell,'' he said, adding that he would bring the matter to the attention of the state and Federal Cabinet.
Dr Chan said Shell has been in Sarawak for 100 years and it would be a pity if they have to cut down on their operations here.
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