19 October 2001 14:06 [Source: ICIS news]
The Belgian trades union FGTB condemned what it described as continuing technical incidents and "technical unreliability" at the plant in a press conference on Thursday.
BP Chembel, which is the Belgian subsidiary of UK-headquartered BP Chemicals, defended its current safety procedures and said its recently announced Genesis project underlines a commitment to a continuous safety improvement programme.
Karol Macek, a manager at BP Chembel’s Feluy site said today: "We deeply regret that the union is using safety issues to create emotion to try and reinstate sacked staff."
He added: "Who is in the best place to judge the management and safety of the site? Is it the defenders of those who have been sacked or the management on the site who are constantly looking to ensure competency?"
The Belgian union is concerned about problems relating to allegedly insecure installations and fears of job-losses resulting from the two-year restructuring plan, part of the Genesis programme. The restructuring will result in the loss of 70 jobs from its 290-strong workforce.
BP Chembel is calling for an open dialogue with the unions on the Genesis project. Macek said Genesis aims to achieve costs savings by improving production efficiency. The project also involves a BF700m ($15.7m/Euro17.4m) investment in safety and no less than 75 000 hours of training, said Macek.
The BP Chembel works council and management have agreed a timescale for discussions on the Genesis project with national representatives.
Plans to cut the Feluy workforce by a quarter were announced shortly after BP Chembel dismissed 10 operators (blue collar staff) at its 300 000 tonne/year linear alpha olefins (LAO) plant for gross misconduct, sparking an eight-day strike at the site which ended earlier this week.
Workers at the LAO plant returned on Wednesday, a day after strikers at the PAO facility and its related 3000-5000 tonne/year aluminium alkylates facility reported for duty.
BP Chembel confirmed today that its 60 000 polyalphaolefins (PAO) plant at Feluy is now running at normal capacity. The LAO plant is down for maintenance work and is due back up around 10 November.
(Hugo Leblud in Brussels contributed to this story.)
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