Scaling down workforce

AT least 150 ExxonMobil employees are understood to have taken voluntary redundancy packages across Australia, with more waiting to see if their applications have been successful.

Dozens of workers had their last day with ExxonMobil last Wednesday, some having worked for the company for decades.

The company told workers on September 2 that it was beginning a voluntary redundancy program for its Australian employees.

In a statement, the company said the decision to offer voluntary redundancies followed an extensive review of its current and future project work.

Employees in Melbourne, Gippsland, Sydney, Adelaide and Perth who elected to take part in the voluntary program were asked to offer expressions of interest through September.

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

The short timeline between the offer of redundancy packages and work finishing up has fuelled speculation amongst employees that ExxonMobil has a buyer for its Australian operations, but the company has rejected that.

An ExxonMobil spokesperson said the company was “testing market interest” for a number of assets worldwide, including its operated producing assets in Australia, as part of an ongoing evaluation of its assets.

“We are providing information to third parties that may have an interest in these assets, but no agreements have been reached and no buyer has been identified,” the spokesperson said.

“ExxonMobil continually reviews its assets for their contribution toward meeting the company’s operating needs, financial objectives and their potential value to others.

“Operations will continue as normal throughout the effort to sell the assets.

“Our priorities continue to be effectively meeting the expectations of our customers, employees and business partners, while maintaining a consistent focus on safe and efficient operations.”

Given the uncertainties with ExxonMobil assets on the market, it is understood interest in the redundancy program has been strong, particularly among long-time employees who have qualified for the maximum 52 weeks of redundancy pay.

ExxonMobil has not responded to questions from the Gippsland Times relating to how many of its employees it wants to shed, or how many people have applied for or accepted redundancies.

However, it is believed dozens of contractors have recently lost their jobs as part of the downsizing of the workforce.

ExxonMobil says employees who participate in the voluntary redundancy program will be provided with company support, including outplacement services.