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Shell cost-cutting plan will undermine the welfare of its pensioners

By John Donovan

Today we publish below a notification letter dated 8 December 2016 sent by a Shell HR VP to all Shell UK pensioners. 

Basically, Shell is intending to scrap the network of 45 Pensioner Liaison Representatives established over 40 years ago, who currently represent 28,000 Shell UK pensioners. Although Shell still rakes in billions of dollars in annual profits, the reason given is cost-cutting arising from the BG takeover and the low price of oil. 

The letter, pdf copy attached, is signed by a Shell HR VP Jonathan Kohn who openly admits that what is proposed is a “significant change”. 

Based on information provided to me by a knowledgeable source, I have no doubt that the proposed cost-cutting closure of the PLR network will undermine the welfare of Shell pensioners.

The plan seems at variance with the desire expressed by Prime Minister Teresa May to make big businesses more accountable.

Shell pensioners will lose the collective voice provided by the 48 Pensioner Liaison Representatives.

Related comments are already beginning to appear on the Internet, including this informative posting on Facebook a few weeks ago by Paddy Briggs, a former director of the Shell Contributory Pension Fund:

In my various Shell pensioner support roles over the years as a SPA National Committee member, a Director of the Shell Contributory Pension Fund and Editor of the Pensioner magazine “SMBP 44 Club News” I have had direct contact with beneficiaries of the PLR Scheme. The PLR Scheme provides help and support, where it is needed, to those at a time of their lives when such support is hugely valued. As I myself approach my 70th birthday I know that the availability of help from those you trust is invaluable. Not all of us need it, and those who do don’t need it all the time. But to know that it’s there is a huge comfort. The issue of “Trust” is crucial. We trust our family, and to many Shell is still part of that family. The PLRs treat us not as clients or customers or as problems – we are not visited because we are on a social security list. We are not visited because we might buy something. We are not visited because we are seen as being at risk. We are visited because somebody cares. Loneliness is a scourge of our times. Longevity is great, but it can bring solitude and sadness -especially to those bereaved. I could name dozens of Shell Pensioner widows and widowers for whom their PLR is a crucial help. And, I stress, that help has to be from home visits. You cannot find out emotions and risks from a phone call. These are tough times. Pension providing organisations have to be efficient and cost conscious. But some things cannot be measured in accountants’ cost/benefit terms. The PLR Scheme is one such. I hope that it will continue, that the great work the PLRs do will be rewarded and that as Shell Pensioners we can continue to feel proud of our once employer and of the spirit of family it has.

Another retired Shell employee made this comment after reading the same notification from Jonathan Kohn: “…the great Mr Loudon, who insisted on fair treatment of Shell employees, will surely be turning in his grave”Loudon went on to become President of the World Wildlife Fund.

The latest crop of greedy self-interested senior management apparently has no loyalty to Shell employees and scant respect for the well-being of Shell pensioners.

Shell’s latest proposal, in addition to the recent thousands of ruthless redundancies, is further evidence of the retrograde steps in the fair treatment of loyal employees. Treating human beings as mere numbers.

And all in the cause of the risky takeover of BG Group at an excessive price.


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