Shell IT staff disgusted at mega profits
Union demands talks over job cut plans
Union representatives for Royal Dutch Shell's IT workers demanded talks with the firm's top management yesterday over the outsourcing of up to 3,000 jobs at the oil giant.
The call came as Shell reported full-year earnings of £13.9bn – the biggest ever profit for a British company. The numbers prompted outrage amongst workers who were told a month ago that the firm was in talks with EDS and other companies about outsourcing as many as 3,000 jobs.
Unite regional officer Graham Tran told The Register that the Shell IT workforce in Aberdeen were "absolutely disgusted" with the firm's profits, as it left the future of thousands of IT workers in the balance.
Tran claimed that UK workers who expect to be affected by the job cull remained "in the dark" while their Dutch counterparts were in negotiation about their future with the oil giant.
"It's the usual Shell process in which they refuse to be upfront and tell everyone the open and honest truth," he said. "But they're not telling us anything and are instead busy lining the pockets of shareholders."
The union has called for a meeting with the firm's CEO Jeroen van der Veer about the "arrogant behaviour of certain execs in Aberdeen", Tran said.
He added the union was still considering taking legal action against the firm.
Shell has told Unite that it hoped to make £250m in savings via a number of outsourcing deals with contracts expected to be inked with EDS, AT&T and T-systems – a decision which has left 3,200 UK workers at the firm facing an uncertain future.
We asked Shell if it could tell us any more about its offshore plans, but a spokeswoman told us "we don’t really have an update on that at the moment." ®
Not a chance
The key reason Shell made so much money was because of extraordinarily high oil prices. Prices that will almost certainly dip if the situation in the Middle East stabilises at all.
Considering how quickly this planet is running out of oil (20 to 40 years are figures I see often) and how rapidly the need for oil is increasing I can't see the prices ever going down.
Try working in IT in an investment bank...
...and you will see examples of this industry sickness from all sides all day long.
I don't know of a company that doesn't make these amoral, short-term, profiteering decisions.
This is how things are these days - most of us IT workers who see some of the system know how - dare I say it - 'evil' it is. ALL of the senior management level know how it works and concern themselves with getting their share of the pie before it's gone and how to buzz along to the next pie.
Outsourcing and offshoring are the latest 'vehicle' for senior management to show how wonderful they are at boosting profits (or rather cutting costs) and getting themselves a big bonus, but anyone who has been around a while knows that it's something different every couple of years.
The fact that EDS and the like are still in business even given the number of examples of their incompetencies and failures is testiment to those-that-make-the-decisions having a barely hidden agenda that has nothing to do with making things better (except their bonus pool).
"Investment" used to mean putting money or resources into a company to help make it better. That is certainly not what 'investors' and investment banks are doing these days.
So. Should Shell workers be upset at cost saving exercises when profits are so enormous? Well duh. Does anyone know of a company that really values its employees these days?
The longer I work in IT and investment banking the more I realise that a lot of stuff I used to write off as radical socialist weirdness is actually quite reasonable.
cutting costs is what oil companies do...
I to work for a large oil major and cutting costs by whatever means (IT or otherwise) is essentially how the Oil companies continue to rack up the profits year on year. It is in the culture of oil companies to reduce costs every year sinc eit is after all a commodity business. IT tends to get hit harder since it is always seen as a cost and rarely do the business lines define or cost the benefit of it in the first place! We are an expense.... a totally essential expense though and outsourcing does not always save you money in the long term - after all the companies you outsource to have to make a profit and the margin is almost certainly more than the 12% return on capital employed that the majority of Oil majors aim for.