20 November 2001 19:35 [Source: ICIS news]
LONDON (CNI)--BP Chembel indicated on Tuesday that it might be prepared to accept a compromise over plans to cut 70 jobs at its Feluy, Belgium chemicals site.
Tim Armstrong, managing director at the site, told CNI that BP Chembel is still committed to substantial cuts among the approximately 290-strong workforce as part of a two-year restructuring programme needed to improve profitability.
However, he hinted that BP Chembel might be ready to accept around 60 job cuts. He was speaking today after a further meeting with workers' representatives.
The unions at Feluy have strongly resisted BP's plans although Armstrong said they had made counter-proposals which involved some reductions in staffing levels.
Armstrong said the job cuts had to be sufficient to make the site competitive and help ensure its future is guaranteed. "If we dilute [the job cuts] too much, we won't achieve this objective," he said. "The unions understand the need to do something substantial."
He explained that early retirement had been discussed for about 20 of the proposed 70 job losses, while 11 had already been dismissed over separate disciplinary issues. Armstrong added that BP was discussing redundancy packages for the remaining approximately 40 workers.
Although he admitted there was still a substantial gulf between management and the unions, Armstrong said he was hopeful of concluding the negotiations successfully well before the end of the year.
(Hugo Leblud in Brussels contributed to this story.)
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