Bent on saving $9.2 billion, Brazil's troubled state-run oil firm Petróleo Brasileiro announced on April 1 that a massive job cutoff may affect an estimated 12,000 workers in the next five years.
Petrobras has long been considered one of the biggest employers in Brazil and was named the most ethical global oil and gas company in 2008. However, an enormous corruption scandal, record low oil prices and oversupply of oil in the market have bled the company coffers, resulting in heavy losses in the last two years and a 50 percent drop in share prices.
The voluntary layoff program is expected to cost Petrobras 4.4 billion reais or about $1.2 billion. The plan is open to all employees regardless of age and seniority level and is intended to downsize the workforce to a leaner but more efficient labor pool.
Deyvid Bacelar, the workers' representative at the Petrobras board, told Reuters that workers participating in the redundancy program will be offered between 212,000 reais ($59,660) and 706,000 reais ($198,680). While the plan will cost 4.4 billion reais ($1.2 billion), it will save the company some 33 billion reais ($9.2 billion) through 2020. The cost and savings, however, may fluctuate depending on how many employees participate.
The company also said that it would further decrease its managerial positions by 50 percent to reduce costs by about 1.8 billion reais ($507 million) a year. Petrobras has terminated the services of thousands of contractors and third-party consultants, agents and businesses dependent on Petrobras. These moves come on the back of a redundancy plan announced in 2014.
Petrobras reported a glaring fourth-quarter loss of 36.9 billion reais ($10.4 billion) in 2015, its biggest quarterly loss ever reported. The corruption scandal certainly triggered the devaluation of oil fields and other major assets of the company as its credibility and trustworthiness declined.
Petrobras' oil is supposed to be a gold mine but PricewaterCoopers (PwC) auditors refused to certify the firm's accounts claiming that the corruption scandal had an impact on the firm's assets. PwC has identified devalued assets and snowballing costs jolted by the corruption debacle back in November 2015. Aldemir Bendine, the company's new chief executive, said that publishing the results "is a fundamental step toward fully salvaging the company's credibility."
Analysts said that Petrobras will have to work doubly hard to regain the trust of the financial market.
"Petrobras's problem isn't about oil or finance, it's about trust. The first thing the company needs to do is recover its credibility, because today the market doesn't believe it," said Daniel Marques, chief analyst at Gradual Investimentos.