jamaica-gleaner.com: Protesting Shell workers call in sick: “They are protesting what they say is the management's method of operating the company.” (ShellNews.net) 13 April 05
Published: Wednesday | April 13, 2005
Dionne Rose, Staff Reporter
ROUGHLY 40 clerical and supervisory workers employed to the Shell Company's Rockfort, east Kingston and Montego Bay, St. James offices called in sick yesterday morning. They are protesting what they say is the management's method of operating the company.
Danny Roberts, vice-president of the National Workers' Union (NWU), which represents the workers, said that the industrial action was "indefinite". He said the workers were disgruntled over several issues that management had failed to address. Chief among them is management's reported failure to disclose information concerning the company's operations in Jamaica.
Mr. Roberts argued that while the company has denied that it is pulling out of Jamaica, there was evidence to suggest otherwise.
He said: "We have a problem in terms of the disclosure of information. We wrote to them in November last year and February of this year about the fact that we have heard that there is going to be a sell out of their retail operations and on both occasions, they have denied it."
Roberts continued: "We have heard subsequently that they are in discussions with a leading marketing company for the sale of their retail operations. We are trying to avoid the experience that Barbados and a number of the Eastern Caribbean countries faced last year November when Shell sold out their Eastern Caribbean operations to Simpson's Oil Limited."
Roberts said other reasons for the protest include the delay in the conclusion of a labour agreement, in particular with the salary surveys, which he said has been outstanding for 18 months.
The workers are also dissatisfied with the unsatisfactory manner in which the company has treated the machinery for dispute resolution.
In response, Roger Bryan, country chairman of Shell Jamaica, said: "Shell has not been sold in Jamaica. In fact, no decision has been taken regarding Shell Jamaica in the current portfolio evaluation process."
He said at the same time, the company was downstreaming operations in Latin America (Central America and the Caribbean). Mr. Bryan said that at this stage, the only decision to divest has been taken in Latin America.
"Once decisions are made in Jamaica, we will share them with relevant stakeholders, including of course our staff and contractors, and we will ensure that everyone understands what it means to them and to the business," he advised.
In addressing the salary surveys, Mr. Bryan said that the recent market survey was presented to union delegates last week Thursday and that additional information was requested and would be presented to the union today.
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