Companies in ailing oilpatch look to avoid layoffs

CALGARY - Companies in the ailing oilpatch are looking at ways to avoid layoffs - or at the very least to forestall or minimize them.

See Full Article

Canadian Natural Resources Ltd. (TSX:CNQ) has not had to trim its workforce of more than 7,600 as a result of the crude price collapse.

"In lieu of layoffs, we went to our staff and said 'we will do wage reductions.' And every employee who made more than $50,000 had a wage reduction," chairman Murray Edwards said to applause at a recent business forum in Lake Louise, Alta.

"The majority of employees said they would rather ... keep the team together than to have people laid off."

The Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers has estimated at least 40,000 jobs have been shed in Canada's oil and gas industry this year, with the bulk in Alberta.

With oil prices hovering below US$50 a barrel for much of this year - and dropping below US$40 in recent days - it's been tough for oil producers to justify investing in new projects.

About 1,500 job losses have been announced at oilsands giant Cenovus Energy (TSX:CVE) this year. But in addition to that, the company has taken a hard look at benefits and discretionary spending, said CEO Brian Ferguson.

"We did put in a salary freeze in 2015 as did, I think, most of industry. We have reassessed all of our time off practices."

Debby Carreau, CEO of human resources consulting firm Inspired HR, encourages employers to look at all their options before they resort to letting staff go.

That could include reducing or delaying contributions to Registered Retirement Savings Plans, suspending health spending accounts, freezing salaries or slashing bonuses.

Some companies that have cut salaries are rewarding employees with stock. Others have instituted shortened work weeks or given employees "unpaid sabatticals" until things look up.

And some have encouraged employees to go back to school or brush up on their training, with a promise that they'll have a job to return to.

Instead of catered lunches in the office every day, maybe it's sandwiches from Subway once every two weeks now, said Carreau.

"Those peripheral fringe benefits can actually add up, especially in Calgary where we've had such lucrative compensation plans," she said.

"Some of those things that people don't automatically look at can actually save on costs and send the right message to the organization - that you care, but you're doing everything you can to keep the jobs."

Integra Ltd., a company with fewer than 30 employees that helps oil and gas companies manage their documents, has done everything possible to avoid layoffs, said partner Chris Blender.

Blender and the firm's other partners have taken a pay cut. Integra also found a new benefits provider that offers the same services as the old one, but at a lower cost.

"Because we're in the service industry, people are our business and we spend a lot of time to attract and train our people," he said. "The last thing we want to do is let anybody go during this time."



Advertisements

Latest Economic News

  • Reports say ride-sharing service Uber could stop operations in Quebec, possibly today

    Economic CTV News
    MONTREAL -- Published reports say ride-hailing company Uber could be about to cease operations in Quebec. Reports in Montreal La Presse and the Journal de Montreal say the company could make an announcement as early as today because of new rules governing the service announced last Friday. Source
  • Freshii scales back growth plan for first year as public company

    Economic CTV News
    TORONTO - The Freshii restaurant chain says its growth has been slower than expected, resulting in the closure of some stores and a reduced target for net openings this year. The revised outlook was announced late Monday after shares of the Toronto-based company (TSX:FRII) closed at $8.86. Source
  • Bombardier faces possible double blow to its aerospace, railway businesses

    Economic CBC News
    Bombardier faces the prospect of a double barrel of bad news today affecting its commercial aircraft and railway businesses. The first hit on the Canadian company could come from Europe early Tuesday morning with the announcement of a possible deal to merge Germany's railway manufacturer Siemens with Alstom of France. Source
  • Listen up, girls: a tech career isn't just for gamers and AI enthusiasts

    Economic CBC News
    Although Katie Meyer, 19, has considered a career in technology, she isn't sure it's in the cards for her. Three years ago, when she was 16, her mother enrolled her in a coding camp for girls. Source
  • Canada pushing for inclusion of strong labour standards in NAFTA

    Economic CTV News
    OTTAWA - Canada is pushing for the inclusion of enforceable, progressive labour standards in a rewritten North American Free Trade Agreement, aimed at compelling Mexico to pay workers higher wages and do away with so-called "yellow" unions that represent employers rather than employees. Source
  • Federal government should scale back spending on water, sewage systems: report

    Economic CTV News
    OTTAWA - A new report from a bipartisan think-tank says the federal government should scale back its spending on water and sewage systems in Canadian cities for each community's financial good. The Ecofiscal Commission report being released today makes the case that the fees homeowners pay for the water running through their taps and down their drains don't cover the full cost of service, leading to gaps in funding that upper levels of government have been trying to fill for years. Source
  • Asian stocks little changed after Wall Street tumble

    Economic CTV News
    BEIJING - Asian stocks were little changed Tuesday as investors watched U.S.-North Korean tensions after a decline in tech shares dragged down Wall Street. KEEPING SCORE: Tokyo's Nikkei 225 lost 0.1 per cent to 20,377.29 points while the Shanghai Composite Index was unchanged at 3,340.53. Source
  • China's richest man Jack Ma says he has 'great chemistry' with Trudeau

    Economic CTV News
    Alibaba founder and China’s richest man Jack Ma says he and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau have now met five times and have “great chemistry.” “See, the PM this morning talked about cutting the red tapes and improving the business environment,” Ma told BNN’s Jon Erlichman Monday after their latest meeting in Toronto. Source
  • Ottawa begins public consultations on dealing with corporate wrongdoing

    Economic CTV News
    MONTREAL -- The federal government kicked off nearly two months of public consultations Monday on revising efforts to address corporate wrongdoing, including the possible introduction of a deferred prosecution agreement regime. Engineering and construction firm SNC-Lavalin (TSX:SNC) has led the charge for deferred prosecution agreements (DPA) found in other countries as a way to resolve criminal fraud charges it faces. Source
  • South Dakotans oppose Canadian company's gold search

    Economic CTV News
    ROCHFORD, S.D. -- Some private landowners are opposing a Canadian company's search for gold in a remote area of South Dakota's Black Hills National Forest. Mineral Mountain Resources has submitted an operating plan to the forest for more than 20 drilling sites on federal land a couple miles south of Rochford. Source