Norwegian oil company Statoil, the country’s largest, has launched a new effort to cut costs by cutting staff. The latest incentives to get people to quit voluntarily comes just a month after more reports of lucrative pay deals for Statoil’s top executives.
The local newspaper serving Statoil’s west coast headquarters region, Stavanger Aftenblad, reported this week that hundreds of employees working in Statoil’s personnel, finance and other administrative departments received emails from management, informing them of more looming reductions in staff.
Officials at labour organization Industri Energi, which represents many Statoil workers, told Stavanger Aftenblad that the emails encouraged employees to apply for vacant positions that were being advertised internally, or to apply for severance packages and early retirement programs.
The employees were further informed that Statoil would be examining the company’s needs and internal competence over the summer, and that employees can expect to receive news about their future in the company during the month of October.
Company spokesman Jannik Lindbæk Jr confirmed that severance and early retirement offers now being made carry the same terms as those offered earlier in the year, when the company announced that it intended to outsource more than 200 jobs in Norway.
It’s earlier been reported that Statoil, on a campaign to cut costs, already plans to eliminate as many as 1,400 jobs during the next few years. Management won’t rule out that more cuts may be made, while employees who survive the cuts can expect major changes in their workdays and assignments.
Cuts come as executive pay rises
The pending cuts come amidst criticism, also from some Norwegian politicians, over lucrative executive pay packages for senior management at the state-controlled Statoil. According to state regulations, bonus payments to top executives in partially state-owned companies are restricted to 50 percent of the executive’s salary. Newspaper Dagens Næringsliv (DN) reported recently that two Statoil executives, both residing abroad, have special agreements that allow their bonus payments to reach as much as 200 percent of their salaries.
That suggests John Knight, Statoil’s stategy director based in London, can pocket annual pay of as much as NOK 15.5 million (USD 2.6 million), more than Statoil’s CEO Helge Lund, while Bill Maloney, head of development and production in North America, already was paid 130 percent of his salary in extra bonus last year.
Terje Lien Aasland, energy policy spokesman for the Labour Party, criticized the executive pay deals but Lindbæk defended them, noting that Statoil’s board is allowed to approve higher pay in accordance with market conditions where the executives are recruited.
Executive pay deals remain a sensitive issue at a time of looming cost and staff cuts, and Lindbæk told DN that none of the executives involved were willing to discuss their personal compensation.