By Erwin Seba
HOUSTON (Reuters) - Hourly employees at Royal Dutch Shell Plc’s Convent, Louisiana, refinery, scheduled for permanent closure as early as next week, received details this week of the severance package negotiated by their union and Shell, three people familiar with the agreement said on Friday.
Shell said on Nov. 5 it was closing the refinery after failing to find a buyer for the plant, which has been hit hard by crushed demand in the COVID-19 pandemic. A spokesman did not immediately reply to a request for comment on the agreement.
Shell put the Convent refinery up for sale in July, and was quick to pull the trigger on the closure, the sources said. Shell’s Anacortes, Washington, refinery and Saraland, Alabama, chemical plant, are still operating even though both have been for sale of a longer period of time, the sources said.
The Anacortes refinery has been on the market since at least January.
The United Steelworkers union (USW) and Shell agreed that employees will be paid three weeks for every year of service with a minimum of 12 weeks and a maximum of 78 weeks, the sources said. That offers an extra week of pay per year of service than other refiners which closed plants this year provided, two of the sources said.
About 350 workers are represented by the Steelworkers and can receive the package, they said.
The package for unionized workers is similar to what Shell salaried employees are being offered, they said. The number of salaried and hourly staff is about equal, the sources said. Another 400 contractors work at the Convent refinery.
The dismissed hourly workers can apply for jobs at Shell’s Norco, Louisiana, refinery and Geismar, Louisiana, chemical plant. Some workers will remain to clean up the refinery and some could work at the site into the third quarter of next year, the sources said.
Shell plans to continue seeking a buyer for the refinery.
(Reporting by Erwin Seba; Editing by Tom Brown)