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Shell Australia Refinery Workers Reject Labor Offer

Bloomberg

 

By Angela Macdonald-Smith

Feb. 23 (Bloomberg) — Royal Dutch Shell Plc, one of four oil refiners in Australia, said interim results of a secret ballot of workers at its Clyde plant near Sydney indicate the company’s proposed labor agreement was rejected.

Shell will continue to try to reach an agreement with the labor union on the accord, which is necessary to be able to restart the plant, the company said today in an e-mailed statement. Supplies to the local market are being maintained through imports, it said.

The Clyde plant, the oldest operating refinery in Australia, was shut down at the end of November for maintenance and Shell hasn’t given a date to restart production. Workers at the site voted on Feb. 20 in a secret ballot held by the Australian Electoral Commission on Shell’s proposed labor agreement, which it said included an annual salary increase of 4 percent for the next three years.

“Shell sees a new workplace agreement with its operators as an important step towards making the Sydney-based refinery a sustainable operation,” it said in the statement. “The refinery has temporarily shut down its refining process units and will not return to full operation until it can be done safely, reliably and sustainably.”

Shell’s offer could strip as much as A$12,000 ($7,794) from workers’ pay, change shift rosters without consultation and cut minimum manning levels to allow for the use of more contractors, the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union, said in a Feb. 13 statement.

Preparing for ‘Showdown’

It would also clamp down on provisions for collective consultations between workers and management, the union known as the CFMEU said.

“Shell has been preparing itself for a showdown with its fully unionized workforce of 150 CFMEU members by training up staff and some outsiders to scab in the event of a lockout,” the union said in the statement.

The Clyde refinery, in the city’s west, normally supplies about half the fuels consumed in New South Wales, Australia’s most-populous state. It has a capacity to process about 85,000 barrels of crude a day and produces about 13 million liters a day of fuels, including gasoline, diesel, jet-fuel, bitumen and liquefied petroleum gas, according to Shell’s Web site.

Shell’s other Australian refinery is at Geelong in Victoria state, which has output of around 17.2 million liters of petroleum products a day, according to the Web site.

To contact the reporter on this story: Angela Macdonald-Smith in Sydney at[email protected]

Last Updated: February 23, 2009 00:05 EST

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