Esso to shed workers

UNIONS are working closely with ExxonMobil to ensure employees who accept redundancies get the best deal possible after the oil giant moved to pare down its Australian workforce.

Esso parent company ExxonMobil is inviting its employees to apply for redundancies of up to 52 weeks, in a deal criticised by worker representatives as “inferior”.

The news was announced on Wednesday, and came as a shock to the three main unions representing Esso workers, who say they only received notification of the plans the same day the redundancy offer went out to workers.

Victorian branch secretary of the Australian Workers Union, Ben Davis, described it as “a sad day” but not one that was unexpected given that Esso was trying to sell its Gippsland assets, and the global crash in gas prices.

Mr Davis said officials from the AWU, the Australian Manufacturers Union and the Electrical Trades Union were waiting to work through the details of the offer, which Esso had not yet provided.

“We don’t know much about the offer, but we do know that this offer is inferior to what they have offered in the past,” he said.

During a previous round of forced and voluntary redundancies in the late 1990s, it is understood the company paid out a maximum 78 weeks, with the industry standard at that time up to 120 weeks.

Mr Davis said there was still so much unknown about ExxonMobil’s offer, including how many of its employees it wants to shed.

However, it is believed dozens of contractors have recently lost their jobs as part of the staff-shedding program.

The announcement has sent Esso workers scrambling to work out their possible redundancy pay-outs, checking their superannuation entitlements and seeking financial advice.

In a statement, an ExxonMobil spokesperson said the redundancy offers followed an extensive review of the company’s current and future project work.

“Employees who elect to take part in the voluntary program will be asked to offer expressions of interest through September,” the spokesperson said.

The redundancy program is being offered to all employees in Melbourne, Gippsland, Sydney, Adelaide and Perth.

ExxonMobil has said that employees who participated in the program would be provided with company support, including outplacement services.

“This program will ensure the company manages through these unprecedented market conditions,” the spokesperson stated.

Esso did not respond to requests for comments from the Gippsland Times regarding details about redundancies relating to this area.