“I was informed of my dismissal via a WhatsApp message”: 400 BGP workers in Oman face uncertain fate

“I was informed of my dismissal via a WhatsApp message”: 400 BGP workers in Oman face uncertain fate

London- BGP Oil and Gas Services LLC, a company located in the Sultanate of Oman, should reverse its decision and stop the arbitrary dismissal of more than 400 of its employees, says ImpACT International for Human Rights Policies.

The London-based think tank has collected testimonies from workers who have been dismissed by BGP since March 2020 under the pretext of the repercussions of the COVID-19 pandemic and the falling oil prices.

“Last year, at the beginning of the pandemic, the company told us that it will stop working until further notice, and we agreed with them to return to work whenever requested, with our full privileges and salaries. But nine months later, we were shocked that only 266 workers were called back to work, and the General Federation of Oman Workers handed over a list of 405 laid-off workers", A.S. told ImpACT. He asked not to be identified by name and has been working as a driver for BGP for 12 years. It is important to note that workers were not paid during the months they were not working.

"We filed a complaint with the Ministry of Manpower, but unfortunately the ministry decided to support the company," he added.

BGP offered the laid-off employees two options: receiving nine months of salary, or accepting job offers in other companies with low salaries

- A.S., a worker at BGP 

"The company offered the laid-off employees two options: receiving nine months of salary, or accepting job offers in other companies with low salaries", he stated. “The salaries of other companies are as low as 450 OMR (about $ 1,168 or £ 844), while the salaries at BGP are around 800 - 1,300 OMR, ($ 2,077 - 3,375 or £ 1500 - 2438). When some workers went to the other companies, they found the offer to be even lower, at 420 OMR. Other workers found training offers with a salary of 450 OMR in Muscat, which did not include housing, food, drink, and transportation. Additionally, employment after ten months is not even guaranteed with those positions."

A.J., who has been working for the company for 11 years, said that he was informed of his dismissal via a WhatsApp message. He was offered nine months of salary or "working in another company with salaries that are less than the half."

The laid-off workers reported that the company have started hiring new workers, believing that the company had done so to "get rid of highly paid workers" and replace them with lower-paid workers.

"We are the ones who put a lot of effort in this company, but by the end of the day, we were dismissed, because the contract value will be reduced in order to employ other people with low salaries," he added.

On the other hand, the company issued a statement in which it said that its business had shrunk by 60% and that the workers who were laid off were being paid while they had no work to do.

Although the company gives laid-off workers two options, ImpACT sees these options as unfair and notes that they grossly violate workers’ rights by replacing their jobs with other low-income jobs and without covering their transportation expenses.

ImpACT International for Human Rights Policies calls on the Omani Ministry of Manpower, the General Federation of Oman Workers and the relevant authorities to immediately intervene to end the crisis of the workers of BGP Oil and Gas Services LLM. Additionally, these parties should ensure that workers obtain their rights and to investigate violations they have been subjected to for months.

ImpACT International stresses that BGP should abide by its responsibilities towards its employees, pointing out that article 7 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights assures "the right of everyone to just and favourable working conditions. These are in turn defined as fair wages with equal pay for equal work, sufficient to provide a decent living for workers and their dependents, along with safe working conditions."

ImpACT urges the company’s management to meet the demands of its employees, grant them full financial rights, and respect their right to object and protest against what they regard as ill-treatment from the company.

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