Kuala Belait - Let the market drive the pay.
The Minister of Energy at the Prime Minister's Office, Pehin Datu Singamanteri Colonel (Rtd) Dato Seri Setia (Dr) Awg Hj Mohd Yasmin bin Hj Umar, said this in response to a question from the Borneo Bulletin following an engagement session with newly employed personnel in the oil and gas industry at Pusat Insani in Seria.
The question was asked to find out the minister's thoughts on the people he met, all of whom were given the chance to voice out their concerns and share any issues they had.
"There are different groups of people," he said, with one group that constantly compared and equated everything to the government.
"One of the biggest problems is that they are trying to compare everything with the government. 'We must have this, we must have that... ' " he said. "If we start to do this, the industry will not grow, and will be too self-centred on the pay package.
"I think what we need to do is let the market drive the pay," he said. "Let it be driven by the market. The pay will be getting better and better, but let it be driven by the market."
The minister also said that from talking to the people and managing to have such conversations with the newly employed staff in the oil and gas sector, has given him a different picture.
"We still need to tidy up a lot of issues on pay," he said.
Payment was a common issue raised during the session, with many complaining of being paid a small amount.
"The industry is paying people $17 a day, whereas the operator is paying a lot more money, so are the sub-contractors making a profit off all of this? I hope not.
"This sort of thing has really opened their eyes. We understand these issues and we will be doing something."
People complained that they were being paid only $16-$20 a day, saying they were struggling to support their families.
"This is the cry from the people: They're saying, 'I'm being paid $16, $18 or $20 per day'," recounted the minister. "Yet, the industry is willing to pay more than the sub-contractor is paying to the people. So are we now training these people as a form of income or as a form of profit? If that is so, it is wrong. It's not right.
"This is why I really want to make sure that we finish this competency framework. We must get it done and set the pay for each skill set to the same as the Shell contracts, as to how much Shell is paying for this skill level.
"If we go to the major operators, we won't go wrong, because they should have the same standard, the same benchmark," he added.
Haji Salleh Bostaman bin Haji Zainal Abidin, the Deputy Managing Director of Brunei Shell Petroleum Co Sdn Bhd (BSP), also spoke on this. "There must be a minimum benchmark to which everyone agrees. Provided that people are meeting that minimum competency framework, then they should be paid that minimum wage."
The minister explained that the right benchmark is needed for the whole of the industry.
"We cannot just let one company get away with the way they are trying to develop. They get away by not investing at all with the HRD and HRM activities for the employees. This is what we don't want to happen in the future.
"We want to make it as a benchmark where everybody must actually use some sort of framework. This is what we call the energy competency framework."
Asked when this would materialise, the minister said, "Soon. There are two consultants doing a lot of work with the framework. Many friends from the industry such as Haji Salleh are also doing a lot to help."--Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin