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Union threatens Shell with legal action

Grumbles over reduced pay-off deal for IT workers

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Royal Dutch Shell faces legal action from trade union Unite over the terms of its redundancy package, a week after telling staff that more than 3,000 IT jobs were to be outsourced at the firm.

A leaked memo that appeared on an anti-Shell website last week revealed that staff at the oil giant had been told of the firm's plans to shift 3,200 IT jobs offshore in a cash-saving exercise.

Unite, the union previously known as Amicus, has complained that Shell's redundancy package is inadequate.

Graham Tran, Unite regional officer in Aberdeen where Shell is headquartered, told The Register that Shell had massively cut its maximum pay-off in June last year from £200,000 per employee to £50,000.

He said the union had hoped to convince Shell to reinstate its original company redundancy package before it signs contracts with outsourcing outfits EDS, AT&T and T-systems, which is expected to happen in March this year.

But Tran, who is meeting with Shell representatives this afternoon, reckoned the likelihood of that happening was slim. He warned: "We have a very strong voice and, if Shell doesn't want to wake up to it then we'll see them in court."

Unite is also disputing Shell's claim that the previous £200,000 redundancy package only applied to offshore oil rig workers and not IT staff.

Tran said that, aside from any immediate lay-offs, he also wanted the oil multinational to safeguard the interests of UK employees who could be shifted over to a new company under the outsourcing deal.

"Guys that have done nothing other than deliver profits to the company have been dumped in the water," said Tran.

Shell, which does not recognise the union, was not available for comment at time of writing. ®

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