A TASK force has been formed to see that reasonable wages are given to local lower-skilled employees in the oil and gas industry, the Minister of Energy at the Prime Minister's Office said yesterday.
Yang Berhormat Pehin Datu Singamanteri Colonel (Rtd) Dato Seri Setia (Dr) Hj Mohammad Yasmin Hj Umar (pic) said the task force, which was set up with the consent of His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam, is chaired by Permanent Secretary (Downstream and Power) at the Department of Energy Hj Jamain Hj Julaihi, and the permanent secretaries at the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Home Affairs.
The swift creation of the Task Force for Reasonable Wages in the Oil and Gas Industry is part of the government's response to complaints from low-skilled Bruneians working in the sector, which were brought to the Energy Minister's attention last month when he met new recruits and apprentices in the oil and gas industry.
Speaking at the Brunei Shell Joint Venture vendor forum yesterday, YB Pehin Dato Hj Mohammad Yasmin cited two examples of unfair practices.
The first involved discrepancies in fuel allowances, whereby expats had their commuting costs covered; which was a significant issue for locals who commute from other districts, he said.
The second complaint was that the workers were not being paid the amounts stated on their contracts with contractors.
The minister said these complaints called into question "the integrity and honesty of companies that are guilty of such practices" and that "paying lower than the specified pay grade is both unethical and dishonest".
Meanwhile, YB Pehin Dato Hj Mohammad Yasmin was quick to point out that he did not endorse favouritism towards locals.
"I strongly believe in the merit system, that pay must be linked to performance and productivity," he said, warning local employees not to think that just because they were locals they could demand certain privileges.
It is also incorrect to compare remuneration packages offered by the government to those offered by the oil and gas industry as the latter is dependent on the market, he added.
YB Pehin Dato Hj Mohammad Yasmin also said that "a market-driven remuneration package would be much better and more satisfying than those offered by the government".
He also warned nationals not to abuse their position, after incidents of local employees bullying foreigners came to light.
"I send a straight message, if I receive (such a complaint) I will not tolerate (it). The foreigners are here to help us and develop our country. That is very important. Locals have to do their part and work hard, and they have to make sure they are competent as well," the minister said, adding they cannot expect things to be given to them on a "silver platter."
"Nobody has the right to abuse any of the foreigners in Brunei. In cases like this of people bullying the foreigners, I give my strongest condemnation, and it is un-Bruneian. Bruneians are friendly people with high respect for people, and it is un-Bruneian to bully another foreigner," the minister added.
The Brunei Times
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