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Dutch union threatens strike action at Shell over failure to agree new collective agreement

9 December, 2016Dutch union FNV has indicated that it will take strike action at the Pernis refinery in the Netherlands if Shell does not meet its demands.

Federatie Nederlandse Vakbeweging (FNV), an affiliate of IndustriALL Global Union in the Netherlands, is preparing to take strike action against energy giant Shell after failure to agree a new collective bargaining agreement (CBA), despite a year of negotiations.
The proposed CBA covers 1,800 workers at the Pernis and Moerdijk petrochemical plants, and will cover the period from March 2016 to March 2018.
Shell made a final offer, which was rejected by the union. The offer includes a wage increase of a 1 per cent for the first year of the agreement, rising to 1.25 per cent in the second year. This is below industry standard, and lower than other refineries.
The biggest area of contention is Shell’s proposal to slash the budget for merit increases from 1 per cent to 2 per cent. This halves the amount available for salary progression within a pay scale after a certain period of satisfactory work. The change disproportionally affects younger workers, who are more likely to be at the bottom of the scale.
The proposal was rejected by members at a packed meeting on 28 September. Shell made a final counter offer in early November, which was also rejected.
An overwhelming majority of members rejected the offer as an indication that Shell was not serious about resolving the dispute. The members feel that there are irreconcilable difference between the parties, and they are prepared to take action to give an ultimatum to Shell.
FNV members rejected a one off payment proposed by the company as a sweetener, and are demanding a better wage settlement, and the maintenance of the budget for salary progression. They also demand that all workers be given the option of being covered by the CBA.
The FNV has indicated that failure to meet its demands will result in a series of actions, possibly including work stoppages, work-to-rule and strikes.
The FNV indicated that it will take the precautions necessary for shutting down the Pernis site safely and reminded Shell that employing scabs is illegal.
IndustriALL energy director Diana Junquera Curiel said:
“After a year of negotiation with no result, Shell’s loyal workforce are justifiably angry at the company’s intransigence, and it is no surprise that are preparing to embark on industrial action.
“Shell needs to come back to the negotiating table with a reasonable offer, or face strike action.
“The shutting down of the Pernis plant will have a significant impact on the company’s operations. We hope we can avoid that.