Schlumberger is slashing its global workforce, but workers in 1 country say the company is taking advantage of weak labor laws to stiff them of fair severance
Schlumberger, a global oilfield services company, is cutting 21,000 jobs in response to the energy-market collapse.
Workers in Ivory Coast, a West African nation, say the company didn't pay them fair severance when they were laid off this summer.
The workers said the company is taking advantage of weak labor laws and unions to cut costs, a tactic used widely by multinational corporations, according to a labor expert.
Ivory Coast has poor protections for workers, according to a labor advocacy organization.
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As layoffs proceed at Schlumberger — the world's largest oilfield services company — former workers in Ivory Coast say they're being cheated of fair compensation.
Headquartered in Houston, Schlumberger is taking advantage of the West African nation's weak governance and feeble unions to avoid giving the workers the pay they're due under an employee agreement, they say.
This practice is not uncommon among global corporations based in the West, according to Joe Drexler, an international labor expert and adjunct professor at the University of Denver.
"The employers in Côte d'Ivoire do what they can get away with — which is almost everything," Drexler said.
Ivory Coast has among the weakest labor laws in the world, according to the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), an organization that advocates for workers' rights. The country received ITUC's second-worst rating in the organization's 2020 global rights index, dedicated to countries where there are "systematic violations of rights." (The US is in the same category.)
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In July, Schlumberger, which is present in almost 80 countries, said it would cut 21,000 jobs in response to the oil-price downturn. On Tuesday, the price of Brent, the international benchmark for crude prices, was down about 40% relative to the start of the year.
Schlumberger did not respond to a request for comment.
In March and April, the coronavirus pandemic caused demand for fuels like gasoline to collapse, plunging the price of oil to historic lows and forcing energy companies to rapidly cut costs. Many major oil firms, such as BP, Chevron, and Exxon, have reduced their workforces in the last few months.
Do you have a tip about Schlumberger? Reach out to this reporter at [email protected] or through Signal at +1-646-768-1657.