It's unethical to pay locals less compared to foreigners, says Pehin Yasmin
Bandar Seri Begawan - As part of efforts towards ensuring that workers in the oil and gas industry are protected and paid a fair and just salary a task force has been formed to set a reasonable wage for the oil and gas industry.
This was announced by the Minister of Energy at the Prime Minister's Office, Pehin Datu Singamanteri Colonel (Rtd) Dato Seri Setia (Dr) Awang Haji Mohammad Yasmin bin Haji Umar, in his keynote speech at the Brunei Shell Joint Venture Vendor Forum at the Bridex International Convention Centre yesterday.
Setting a backdrop for this announcement, he said, "Just last month, I had a table-to-table session with locals recruited after the December 2011 Job Fair. It is sad that most of them do not even know what their future training plans or career paths are.
"Touching on salary, there were complaints that locals are not being treated fairly compared to their non-local colleagues where, for example, some non-locals are given fuel allowances while none is given to the locals."
He said that this is especially significant for those commuting daily from other districts as their wages, which could be less that $300-$500 a month, are almost gone just to pay for fuel.
"The jobs that we offer must be able to attract locals. I welcome BSP's initiative of rig contracts that provide a more conducive environment for locals through change shift patterns to two weeks on shore and two weeks off shore and setting minimum wages for the rig crew."
On this, he said, a minimum wage should instead be a reasonable one to both the employers and employees.
"Towards setting a reasonable wage for the oil and gas industry, with the consent of His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam, a task force has been formed and is chaired by Haji Jamain Haji Julaihi, Permanent Secretary (Downstream & Power) at the Energy Department, the Prime Minister's Office, with the permanent secretaries from the Ministry of Finance and Ministry of Home Affairs as members."
Speaking to the Borneo Bulletin in an interview on the sidelines of the forum, the minister explained that the task force has already been set up, and has already had its first meeting.
Its official name is "Task Force for Reasonable Wage in the Oil and Gas Industry", and the minister explained that it will look at what the reasonable wage is when it comes to, for example, a mechanic or technician entry."
This task force is aimed at protecting workers in the lower wage category, he said, adding that it does not apply for degree or HND holders for whom there is already a pay structure in place.
In his speech, Pehin Dato (Dr) Awang Haji Mohammad Yasmin shared that he has come across workers who are not being paid the amount that was stated in the contractors' contracts.
"This should not be the case. While the contract states that the worker in a category skill should receive $40, giving him less would be both unethical and dishonest. Where is your integrity as an employer here?
"I was made to understand that this situation in some cases arises, and I repeat in some cases only, due to commissions taken by manpower agencies engaged by the companies," he continued. "I am even told that these manpower agencies are a new growth area for Ali Babas."
He affirmed that this is not right at all, and urged the main operators not to turn a blind eye to this, stressing the need for everyone to be serious in tackling these "undesirable practices" or risk having all their efforts fall out of place.
"Please do not misunderstand me. I strongly believe in a merit system where pay must be linked to performance and productivity," he said. "To the local employees, do not think that just because you are locals you can demand a certain pay package.
"Please do not equate your remuneration package with those offered by the government," continued the minister, adding that the industry's package must be market driven. "Believe me, given the right environment, a market driven remuneration package would be much better and more satisfying than those offered by the government."--Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin