03 May 2013 23:58 [Source: ICIS news]
HOUSTON (ICIS)--US-based ExxonMobil and the United Steelworkers (USW) have reached a tentative agreement over their three-year labour contract, a development that could prevent a strike at the company's integrated petrochemical and refinery complex in Baytown, Texas, the union said on Friday.
The union at Baytown said it wants the same health and safety language that ExxonMobil has already agreed to at its facilities in Torrance, California; Billings, Montana; Chalmette, Louisiana; and Beaumont, Texas.
ExxonMobil, however, rejected the Baytown union's last offer, which was given on 15 April, the USW said.
With the breakdown in negotiations, the union earlier this week issued a required 60-day notice to end the existing contract and go on strike, it said. ExxonMobil likewise issued a required 60-day lockdown notice.
The two sides have since reached a tentative agreement that will now go before the union members for a vote by 15 May, said Lynne Hancock, a union spokesperson.
Preparations for the strike will be suspended until the vote takes place, she said.
The tentative agreement provides the union with two key requests it was pursuing during the negotiations, Hancock said.
Under the first, ExxonMobil would agree to implement a fatigue standard that the company developed with the American Petroleum Institute (API), a trade group, she said.
The standard is intended to limit fatigue among workers, which, in turn, should prevent mistakes that could lead to accidents, Hancock said.
The second request would create a process-safety representative role that would be filled by a union member, she said. The representative would work with the company to ensure that proper procedures are followed and equipment is repaired.
The representative will have a direct line of communication with the company in regard to process safety, Hancock said.
In a statement, ExxonMobil said, "We look forward to moving ahead together and maintaining the good working relationships our employees share with us and one another. We all remain committed to a strong safety culture and will continue our longstanding tradition at ExxonMobil Baytown of working together to ensure safe and reliable operations."
The Baytown facility is the largest integrated petrochemical and refinery complex in the US.
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