A large number of expatriates who have lost jobs in layoffs in the energy sector due to massive restructuring are left struggling, The Peninsula has reported.
Most of them are desperately looking for new employment, as they have taken huge bank loans and must repay them if they must travel back home for good.
The problem is a vast majority of these workers, being professionals who had plush jobs, have been living here with families with most having children in school. In almost everyone’s case the loss of employment was sudden and shocking.
“I was handed this letter of dismissal literally out of the blue,” said a person not wanting to be identified by name or nationality.
The suffering people are of different nationalities, including Indians, Filipinos, Indonesians and Arabs, to name a few.
Requests to embassies
Indonesian embassy sources confirmed that many compatriots with bank loans to repay were approaching them for help in getting another job after having been retrenched by an energy company.
“Obviously, we can’t help them in any way except urge some influential community members to help them get substitute employment,” said a source.
Sources cited a fellow Indonesian who came here to work in the energy sector two years ago. “His family joined him some five months back, and now that he has lost job, it’s a disaster. It’s a tragic situation for him and his family. They are stuck here due to an unpaid bank loan. Plus, his children are in school.”
Philippine embassy and community sources claim many Filipinos employed in the energy sector have suddenly lost jobs and having to repay bank loans, are looking for new, suitable employment.
Also, several Filipinos, Indians, Indonesians and others are saddled with police cases because they are unable to maintain loan repayments.
No exit permit without bank clearance
A leading energy company isn’t giving exit permit to its employees who cannot provide clearance from banks where their salaries were transferred.
A bank gives clearance only when it has nothing to receive from a customer. People who have taken loans cannot hope to get a clearance letter from their banks unless they have repaid loans.
However, being fair, the oil company has given time to those laid off to look for new employment, and as rules demand, has informed the banks about employees’ dismissal after transferring their end-of-service benefits to their bank accounts.
Job cuts due to restructuring
Prominent businessman Ahmed Al Khalaf, familiar with the layoffs being implemented by a local energy giant, said job cuts are because of a restructuring of the company, not because of falling revenue fuelled by plummeting global crude prices.
“The company has a new CEO. He has been in the company for long and knows it in and out, so he is making it more efficient. Many departments are being merged,” said Al Khalaf.
“The layoff is good for cost-efficiency of the company though it may not be good for people who have lost jobs,” he added.
Many big international oil companies are also cutting jobs, he said, because they are suspending or cancelling projects as they may not be economically feasible any more due to the falling oil prices.
About bank loan defaults by people losing jobs, he said employers are not to blame. “Companies issue salary certificates and give an undertaking to banks that if an employee is laid off, they would inform them and transfer their terminal benefits,” said Al Khalaf.