Total’s France refinery workers begin 48-hour strike over closure

17 February 2010 09:32  [Source: ICIS news]

Total Petrochemical PP plantLONDON (ICIS news)--Around 7,000 workers are taking part in a demonstration at all five of Total's French refineries on Wednesday in support of 370 colleagues at the petrochemical giant’s Dunkirk site, which is likely to be closed down.

A CGT union spokesperson said around 2,000 direct employees of Total and 5,000 suppliers and subcontractors would go on strike for 48 hours to demand a restart and answers over the future of the plant, which employs 370 people.

Workers involved with the refineries in La Mede, Donges, Grandpuits and Feyzin have all petitioned in solidarity to send out a strong message.

It was not yet clear what impact the industrial action would have across the chemicals market, but ICIS news previously reported that the closure of the Dunkirk refinery would affect the European propylene market.

The Flandres refinery at Dunkirk has stopped producing fuel products since mid-September because of low refining margins and low demand.

The union spokesperson said Total had delayed making a decision on the beginning of February on whether to close Dunkirk to avoid embarrassing the French government before its regional elections in March.

The union wanted information on the strategy of Total, as it felt the refiner had plans to close all its plants in France and eventually Europe in order to raise demand and prices, especially as it had starting importing from the Middle East.

When asked if the strike would be successful, the union spokesperson said: “It will not be less negative, at least something will happen.”

A Total spokesperson said the company would hold an extraordinary meeting on 29 March to decide the fate of the Dunkirk plant, which produces 137,000 bbl/day.

The spokesperson added that no redundancies would take place if Dunkirk was closed, and workers would either be offered other jobs within the group or be put on early retirement.

For more on Total visit ICIS chemical intelligence
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By: Franco Capaldo
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