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Bloomberg: Shell Gabon Workers Want Management Change Before Ending Strike

By Clare Spencer

March 27 (Bloomberg) — Employees of Shell Gabon who began a strike last week that halted oil production won’t return to work until there are changes to the company’s management, a labor union official said.

Officials from the National Organization of Oil Workers held talks with Shell Gabon Managing Director Hans Bakker overnight to discuss changes to the working hours and holidays, Arnauld Engandji, national secretary of the labor union, said in an interview today from the capital, Libreville.

“The problem is deeper,” he said. “Unless there are some changes made in the management line, all our other demands are secondary.”

Shell Gabon is a joint venture between Royal Dutch Shell Plc, Europe’s largest oil company, and Gabon’s government, which owns 25 percent of the company. Workers stopped work on March 19 and production of 60,000 barrels of oil a day was halted a day later, Bakker said in an interview yesterday. An additional 30,000 barrels of oil exported through Shell’s facilities by Total Gabon and Perenco have also been cut off, he said.

The labor union wants Bakker to step down as managing director of the company, a demand that he rejected.

“In a free economy it is neither the employees nor the government who decide who runs a company,” Bakker said in an interview today.

Talks between the company and the union are continuing.

To contact the reporter on this story: Clare Spencer in Libreville via Johannesburg at [email protected].

Last Updated: March 27, 2008 13:02 EDT

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