PETALING JAYA: The former employee of a petroleum company was awarded compensation of close to RM1.2 million after the Industrial Court ruled that he had been unfairly dismissed by the Sarawak-based firm.

Norzaifizy Khalid Nordin, a lead facilities specialist at Murphy Sarawak Oil Co Ltd, was issued a retrenchment notice on Aug 15, 2015.

The company said it had been suffering a severe decline in profits and a reduction in business due to a significant drop in global oil prices.

Murphy vice-president Harry Howard said the company had taken several cost-cutting measures which had proven ineffective. He added that the company had no choice but to release Norzaifizy from employment with two months’ salary in lieu of notice.

Murphy paid Norzaifizy RM266,766.03 in retrenchment benefits. However, Norzaifizy filed a claim in court seeking reinstatement.

Norzaifizy, represented by S Muhendaran and Chong Wan Loo, also wrote to the company seeking clarification but it maintained its stand.

Norzaifizy argued that his retrenchment was a breach of the principles of natural justice and an act of victimisation.

Industrial Court chairman Yong Soon Ching said in a 32-page award that the dismissal was without just cause or excuse.

He said it was for the company to discharge the onus of justifying the departure from the last-in, first-out principle in retrenching employees by citing substantive and reliable evidence.

“The company abandoned the principle and instead adopted its own criteria,” he added.

Yong also said Norzaifizy had committed no misconduct, neither had he performed below expectations to warrant the dismissal.

He said he was satisfied that there had been a decline in the company’s profits but that this was not enough to render it unable to continue its operations.

He also said employers must take all measures under the Code of Conduct for Industrial Harmony before conducting a retrenchment exercise.

“This court is of the opinion that the company has adequately complied with the code, although not entirely,” he added.

He said it was not a suitable case for reinstatement but that the rightful remedy would be to award the claimant with compensation.

Norzaifizy joined the company on May 1, 2008. His last drawn salary was RM33,537 plus RM1,700 in cost of living allowance.

His back wages amounted to RM810,451, while compensation in lieu of reinstatement came to RM387,607, totalling RM1,198,058.

However, Yong ordered that only RM931,291.97 be paid to Norzaifizy since the company had already paid RM266,766.03 in retrenchment benefits.