The oil major Shell is thought to be preparing to shed around 3,200 jobs, mostly in its information technology division. As with many other public and private sector concerns, the plan is to hive the jobs off to external specialist contractors.
The company has informed staff it is planning to outsource "a substantial part" of its IT infrastructure services division, believed to comprise a total of 3,600 people. Detailed consultations with workers affected will begin soon, with a start date for the new arrangements planned for 1 July.
The move by the Anglo-Dutch producer follows hundreds of UK jobs cuts and the off-loading of thousands of other worldwide posts at rival BP, which was in the distant past, like Shell, a famously paternal company.
Details about Shell's move were outlined in a leaked email from the company's vice-president of IT infrastructure, Goh Swee-Chen.
In the message, dated 19 December, she stated three partners had been selected for the outsourcing deal EDS, AT&T and T-systems with contracts expected to be signed in March next year.
Ms Swee Chen said: "I acknowledge that there will still be uncertainty as we are working through the finalisation of contracts, open resourcing and transition preparations. I encourage you to keep an open mind and take the time to learn more about the suppliers as employers and as business partners."
A series of "Facing Change" meetings for staff has been set up from next week to outline the proposals, she added.
The message was sent to the campaigning website royaldutchshell.com, which is occasionally used by Shell staff to air their grievances. A spokeswoman for Shell has confirmed the outsourcing plans.
Shell, which employs about 108,000 worldwide including 3,000 at its main UK office in London, has pledged to reduce costs by about 250m per year.