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Reuters: Dutch union rejects Shell labour agreement offer

Fri Feb 15, 2008 9:07am EST 

AMSTERDAM, Feb 15 (Reuters) – Royal Dutch Shell (RDSa.L: Quote, Profile, Research) is facing pressure from a Dutch trade union over a new labour agreement, weeks after the oil company announced it had made the biggest-ever annual profit of a European company.

The union said on Friday it had rejected the pay offer for workers at Shell’s Pernis oil refinery and its Moerdijk plant, saying it is too low, and also expressed concern about the firm’s plans to reduce holiday allowances.

“A company with such profit figures can and must give its employees a decent wage increase,” said Egbert Schellenberg, director of the FNV Bondgenoten union, adding that the atmosphere in the workplace was starting to get “unpleasant”.

“People are starting to get angry with their employer, because everyone knows Shell makes enough money, so why is there so much trouble to make a good deal?”

Shell is offering the 2,300 employees concerned a pay rise of 3.5 percent for 2008 and 2009 as well as a 0.5 percent bonus. It also wants to reduce holiday allowances by four days, a Shell spokesman said.

“We require more staff and it is difficult to find them and we also need to look at the costs, we want to do more with the same amount of people,” the spokesman said.

“We made a big profit worldwide, but in downstream some of the costs are quite concerning because refinery margins have been reduced.”

He said Shell planned to negotiate further, and was not concerned about industrial action at present.

Schellenberg said negotiations were likely to resume before March 1, when contracts are due to expire.

Shell reported a 2007 profit of $27.6 billion at the end of January.

(Reporting by Catherine Hornby; Editing by Quentin Bryar)

© Reuters 2008 All rights reserved

http://www.reuters.com/article/rbssEnergyNews/idUSL1512362920080215

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