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French Unions to mount protest at Shell Paris HQ on 3 June


On 3 June former employees of the Shell Berre Petrochemical Refinery will mount a major protest at Shell’s Paris HQ – a photograph of a banner prepared for the protest is displayed.

The protest has been organised by a group of Shell unions. Background information about why 1600 French former Shell employees feel driven to protest against their treatment by Shell is contained in the letters which have been translated into English.  Because they contain extremely serious allegations against Shell, including fraudulent behaviour, we sent them to Royal Dutch Shell Company Secretary Michiel Brandjes on Monday. No reply has been received. Apparently this is one of the occasions when Shell feels it best to say nothing. 

A version of this article is published on Blogger News Net: 

1600 French former Shell employees declare war on the oil giant

The self-explanatory email and letters: – 


From: John Donovan <[email protected]>
Date: Mon, 25 May 2009 14:37:50 +0100
To: [email protected]” <[email protected]>
Cc: [email protected]” <[email protected]>
Conversation: Sale of Berre Petrochemical Refinery to LyondellBasell Industry (PA)
Subject: Sale of Berre Petrochemical Refinery to LyondellBasell Industry (PA)

Dear Mr Brandjes
The letters below have been supplied in an English translation by a French trade union official, Mr Roger Haddad-Parfait.

His contact details are as follows:

Compagnie Pétrochimique de Berre
BP 14, 13131  Berre l’étang, Cedex, France

If Shell does not take issue with the facts as stated, then there is no need to reply. If I receive no response by 3pm tomorrow UK time, I will assume that the information and allegations are unchallenged by Shell. If Shell is taking legal action in relation to the allegations, then please advise accordingly.

If you need more time to check matters out, then kindly let me know when we can expect a response and we will take no further action until then.

If you want to supply for publication with the letters any related comment by Shell, we will happily publish it on an unedited basis.

This is an important story which deserves publication in the English language.
Best Regards
John Donovan



Site CPB/CDH de Lyondellbasell Berre (ex SHELL)

Shell must assume its social responsibilities

On 1st April 2008, Shell sold the Berre Petrochemical with 1600 employees attached, to LyondellBasell Industry (PA) despite the negative advices raised by the five unions and elected members, worried about the extreme fragility of the LBI group on debt.
Shell was committed by agreement to maintain the vested interests till end 2010 and the plan for employment protection till end 2009. However, LBI stating a bankruptcy situation has been brought after less than eight month of operation, to place the company under the protection of chapter 11 of US bankruptcy code, which was recorded by the competent courts on 6th Jan 2009.
The employees could state the fact that no provision was made between Shell and LBI to insure the effectiveness of social interests!
While the social liabilities represents 120 millions €, Shell has set aside a part of the environment risk for 350 millions. Shell never planned something for the employees. Swans and flamingos are more well treated than the workers!!!!
Shell Group announcing a profit of more than 31 billions of USD for 2008, the five unions of the Berre Site require the respect of the commitments!
All peoples are concerned about this emblematic case, the whole employees, political and economic makers of our country by asking a fundamental question:
Is an employer can take away the initiative to transfer its employees to a third party without ensuring that he is able to take the social commitments that they would enjoy?

Business ethics and the principles of loyalty, responsibility and good faith requires an unanimous answer: an employer who does not ensure the ability of the counterparty to assume the social commitments that he himself negotiated, must assume the consequences vis-à-vis its employees, without limitation or qualification.


In 2008, the Shell group carried out a reorganisation of Shell Pétrochimie Méditerrannée and Société des Pétroles Shell, via the transfer of the activities of the Berre site to two companies that fit the finance industry’s definition of “shell companies” (no pun intended), “Compagnie des Hydrocarbures” (“CDH”) and “Compagnie Pétrochimique de Berre” (“CPB”) with a view to transferring these activities outside the group.
This structuring led to the transfer of more than 1,600 Shell employees to these entities.
As a result of this reorganisation, in April 2008, Shell sold CPB and CDH to “Lyondell Basell”, a newly established group controlled throughout various offshore companies by Mr Len Blavatnik, an elusive Russian oligarch.

As part of this transfer and given employee scepticism regarding the acquirer’s credibility, Shell strove to present this group as a flourishing, prosperous group capable of ensuring the employees of the Berre site the growth of their activities over the long-term. Accordingly, Shell committed itself contractually that the benefit of the company agreements and other plans covering the employees at Shell would continue to exist for them after the transfer, over and above what is required by law.
For the sake of completeness, it is important to bear in mind that the value of these rights exceeds EUR 500 million.
Less than eight months after this sale, the holding companies of the Lyondell Basell Group were forced to apply for bankruptcy under the American system (chapter 11) and 13 of this group’s 16 French entities, including CPB and CDH, were the subject of alert procedures implemented by their auditors and their works council. The information communicated at the time did not satisfy the company auditors, who are contemplating referring the matter to the courts having jurisdiction.
During the alert procedure of the works council, we noted a scandalous level of indebtedness (in excess of US$!) and the extreme fragility of the financial structure set up   by Len Blavatnik at the time of the acquisition of the Berre site and above all, the total absence of any financial guarantee whatsoever intended to ensure the effective service of the transferred rights!

In view of the disastrous situation of the Lyondell Basell Group, the thousands of transferred Shell employees are now alone and physically deprived of the rights they  had acquired.
This situation is intolerable!

Less than a year ago, Shell sold us to an over-indebted group – truly a house of cards, driven solely by the appetite for profit of the person pulling all the strings – and totally incapable of performing the obligations committed to vis-à-vis the employees.

surrounded by many advisors, was at the time (and still is) fully aware of the real nature, the financial situation and the physical inability of Len Blavatnik to perform the obligations to which Shell had it commit. As part of a genuine hindrance to employees’ rights of representation, Shell knowingly lied with respect to the guaranties and the real prospects that this over-indebted group was able to offer, as well as to the risks incurred by the employees: risks that were confirmed the day of the transaction and that are now materialising, less than eight months after the transaction!
Shell’s behaviour has been fraudulent and unfair vis-à-vis both the representatives of the Group’s employees and the 1,600 employees concerned.

Shell and its directors bear both civil and criminal liability.

In view of this situation, we urge Shell’s directors to immediately begin a constructive dialogue with the employee representatives of CPB and CDH, in order to guarantee all of the employees concerned the due and complete fulfilment of the rights they hold under the “PSE” [job-saving plan] and the transferred agreement.
Should Shell and its directors fail to do so immediately, the trade unions, works councils and employees reserve the right to initiate any legal proceedings necessary to protect their rights and to denounce the criminal behaviour in this matter.

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