09 October 2001 11:48 [Source: ICIS news]
BRUSSELS (CNI)--BP Chembel, the Belgian subsidiary of UK-headquartered BP Chemicals, plans to cut 70 jobs from its 300-strong workforce in Feluy, Belgium by the end of 2003 as part of a restructuring programme.
The cuts were announced following what BP describes as an unrelated dispute with unions which has resulted in a strike by all 180 of its operators and a shutdown of all production.
Karol Macek, a manager at BP Chembel, said on Tuesday that the workers went on strike after BP terminated the contracts of 10 operators for "insubordination" on Friday (5 October). Negotiations with the unions are continuing but it is not known when the plants - which have the capacity to produce 300 000 tonne/year of linear alpha olefins (LAO), 60 000 tonne/year of polyalphaolefins (PAO) and 3000-5000 tonne/year aluminium alkylates - will be restarted.
Macek noted that the plants will remain closed for maintenance work - scheduled to last about three weeks - once the operators return to work.
BP Chembel said it is implementing a new organisational structure aimed at improving profitability. The Feluy plants, which generate a turnover of BF12bn-13bn/year ($273m/Euro297m-$296m/Euro322m), have been losing money since 1997.
BP Chembel will reduce its staff progressively through pre-retirement programmes and outplacement. At the same time, the company will increase safety at the site through a BF100m investment over two years. An additional BF100m will be injected into Feluy to boost capacity at the sites and cut costs. Further details were not immediately available.
(Additional reporting by Anna Jagger in London)
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