By John Donovan
Printed below is a self-explanatory email sent this afternoon to Mr. Michiel Brandjes, Company Secretary & General Counsel Corporate, Royal Dutch Shell Plc.
Dear Mr. Brandjes
Printed below is a letter from staff representatives of Petroleum Development Oman (PDO Oman), a company which for several decades has been closely associated with Shell.
As you can see, demands are addressed to HE Dr. Mohd Al Rumhi, the Omani Minister for Oil & Gas.
We have reason to believe that the letter is genuine and consequently have published it along with this email to you.
If you establish that it is a hoax, then we will take the appropriate action.
However, as indicated, we believe it is perfectly genuine.
If I receive no response within 24 hours, I will take that as confirmation.
HE Dr. Mohd Al Rumhi
The Minister of Oil & Gas
Assalamu Alaikum wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatuh,
We, The interim group of Omani staff representatives, would like to communicate our appreciation to Your Excellency for giving us the opportunity to meet with you on Wednesday 23rd March 2011.
Over past few days and weeks, PDO Omani staff felt that they can no longer tolerate their deep-routed, years-old issues not being addressed by the company. As a result, we came out in peaceful gatherings to seek hi-level acknowledgment of the legitimacy of our issues. We were eternally grateful for Your Excellencys words to the gathering on 14/9 which not only assured the gathered that their issues will be heard, but concrete measures will be taken to address them. The gathered understood Your Excellencys message that some issues can be resolved immediately, while others need planning and time and others yet may not be achievable in the foreseeable future.
As elected representatives of the 500+ PDO Omani staff gathered both on 9/3 and 14/3, we have collated the issues and demands from those gatherings and classified them into six themes. For each theme we describe the relevant issues and the associated demands focusing mainly on Quick-Wins and Hi Impact demands. The rest we expect to be followed up by a more representative trade union once it is elected.
On the basis of this, these are the top demands that we are putting forward and asking for Your Excellencys support & acceptance on:
1. Omani Staff Packages are to be revised with immediate effect to be in-line with expatriate packages as stipulated by Article 11 of the Omani Manpower Law.
2. Staff shall be eligible for Normal Retirement when completing 30 years of pensionable service. Pension benefits after completing 30 years of pensionable service shall be set to current Company-set maximum of 80% of basic salary at retirement regardless of age.
3. Provision of comprehensive health insurance for Omani staff including their immediate family members.
4. All Omani staff shall become eligible to receive a housing loan or a top-up adjustment to their existing loan up to the current ceiling of Sixty Thousand Omani Rials.
5. PDO to introduce Replacement Plans for all expatriates ensuring full knowledge transfer to Omanis. In addition, policies governing expatriate contracts shall be changed such that these contracts are not renewable and that an expatriate cannot be replaced with another expatriate.
6. PDO to define categories of lower-skill labour (e.g. Data entry, well-operators, fork-lift operators etc.) and skilled-labour (e.g. contract engineers, IT personnel etc.) that are limited to Omanis.
7. Empower and enhance the role of the State Financial and Administration Audit Institution to improve the transparency, accountability and efficiency across the Company.
We trust that Your Excellency, as we have been accustomed by you, will meet us with an open mind and an open heart. We expect that by the end of our meeting that we will be told which of these demands can be achieved immediately and a date by which we can hear back on what are Your Excellencys plans and timelines for the rest including those detailed in the attachment