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Repsol workers challenge retrenchments

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Workers dismissed by Spanish energy giant Repsol are fighting back. The 11 workers, accompanied by a representative from the Bankers Insurance and General Workers Union (BIGWU), met on Thursday with officials from the company.

During the meeting, which started at 9.30 am and lasted for 90 minutes, BIGWU representative Don Devenish put forward a proposal to Repsol to review and improve the severance packages offered to the workers. A spokesperson or the workers, who did not want to be identified, said they also asked for a hardship allowance.

“This means that we will get monetary compensation until we get another job. That was not included in the initial severance package that Repsol gave to us,” the spokesman said.

He said the Repsol officials promised to give a response by March 4.

“The officials who were present, along with two of their attorneys ,said that they would need to contact headquarters, which is in Spain, hence the reason why they said we will have to await further word from them until March 4. So we wait to see what happens next,” the worker said.

The workers claim that instead of three month’s salary per year in severance payments, which is the industry standard, the retrenched workers were offered two and three weeks of salary a year. Devenish has raised concerns about the retrenchment process.

In a January 21 statement to the media, Repsol said the retrenchments followed a decision by the parent company in October 2015 to lay off 1500 workers—six per cent of its global workforce.

“The dramatic collapse in oil prices started in July 2014 and it has been a tough time for the industry; the reality is that no oil and gas company is immune to low commodity prices. Our main focus is for safe and efficient operations while constantly reviewing our organisation needs that is best for our company,” Repsol said, adding that market conditions had worsened.