KUCHING: Chief Minister Adenan Satem declined to comment on ongoing talks between Petronas and the state government regarding the lifting of a moratorium imposed on the hiring of non-Sarawakian workers.
The state government initiated the move last week after Petronas retrenched 13 Sarawakian workers following a restructuring exercise.
Petronas also abolished 29 permanent positions, according to non-profit organisation Suarah Petroleum Group (SPG).
Petronas’ top brass met state government officials, including Deputy Chief Minister Douglas Uggah Embas, in Kuching on Monday.
“No. I don’t want to talk about it now,” said Adenan, when asked about the meeting.
“There are delicate negotiations still going on. Okay? I don’t want to jeopardise the matter now. Better to keep silent.”
The meeting, held at Wisma Bapa, the state Cabinet main office, was attended by Douglas and Sarawak State Secretary Mohamad Morshidi Abdul Ghani.
The Petronas team was led by its Executive Vice-President and Chief Executive Officer (Upstream) Mohd Anuar Taib.
Other delegates from the oil firm were Senior Vice-President, Group Human Resource Management, Raiha Azni Abdul Rahman and Senior Vice President, Corporate Strategy, Adif Zulkifli.
In a statement yesterday, Uggah said the meeting was productive and another meeting was scheduled on Saturday to iron out the “fine details”.
The meeting was held following the Sarawak Government’s decision to issue a moratorium on all new applications for work permits for Petronas’ employees from outside Sarawak to work in the state.
In a statement last week, SPG said it was in favour of the work permit freeze, saying the national oil firm had hired hundreds of new staff from Peninsular Malaysia at the expense of equally capable Sarawakians.
Petronas responded by stating that it expected the majority of the workforce required to meet the new manpower demand from its Sarawak operations to constitute Sarawakians “as per existing recruitment practices”.
At a dinner on Friday night in Johor Bahru, Adenan said he would move to scrap all work permits of non-Sarawakians if Petronas does not cooperate with the state government on its demand that the oil firm increase its number of local workers.
He added that the current moratorium imposed by the state government was part of the overall push to ultimately raise Sarawak’s share of revenue collected from its oil and gas wells from the current 5%.