Expatica (Netherlands): Shell and unions reopen talks: “The unions agreed on Wednesday to suspend escalation of the industrial action by 24 hours. Workers at the oil giant's NAM plants in The Hague and Emmen were to begin cutting production on Wednesday.”: Posted Thursday 3 November 2005
AMSTERDAM — Anglo-Dutch oil giant Shell has agreed to reopen negotiations to resolve a dispute over changes to the company pension scheme in the Netherlands.
The CNV and FNV trade unions have accepted the invitation to talk, though it is not clear if Shell is offering concessions. The company has demanded the industrial action that started on Monday be suspended.
RTL Nieuws reported on Wednesday evening that it was unclear if production at the Pernis refinery and Moerdijk petrochemical plant had returned to normal.
Pernis in Rotterdam produces 418,000 barrels per day and is Europe's largest refinery. For safety reasons, the plants could not be shut down immediately.
Workers at Pernis and the Moerdijk plant in North Brabant began shutting down production on Monday evening. The gradual process was to take two weeks.
The unions agreed on Wednesday to suspend escalation of the industrial action by 24 hours. Workers at the oil giant's NAM plants in The Hague and Emmen were to begin cutting production on Wednesday.
The dispute involves changes to the pension schemes for about 9,000 Shell employees and 1,800 workers at NAM. Shell's reforms would have employees paying pension contributions - something they have not done for years. The company also wants to increase the retirement age.
The FNV argued last week that the Shell pension fund is financially sound and there is no reason for what the union describes as "cost-cutting measures".
Shell rejected this description and said the plan relates to "future cost management". Giving in to union demands would add 9 percent to the company's annual wage costs, Shell claimed.
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