French govt insists Total give jobs pledge

1st February 2010, Comments 0 comments

The government says it will not accept a unilateral step being taken without a commitment on job security for the oil giant Total’s refinery's workforce.

Paris – The government will not accept oil giant Total closing a refinery in northern France as long as it does not secure the jobs of the 800 workers concerned, the industry minister said on Monday.

"For the moment, we do not have anything firm or definitive from Total and let me say this, the government will be very firm," Industry Minister Christian Estrosi told BFM radio.

"We will not accept a unilateral step being taken without a commitment on job security for the refinery's workforce," Estrosi added.

"In no circumstances can the Total refinery in Dunkirk... be closed without there being the necessary guarantees on a new activity (there)," he added.

Estrosi stressed that the country would find it hard to understand how Total, a hugely profitable company, could take such a step without some action on preserving employment.

Total announced in December that it was considering shutting down its refinery in Flanders, near Dunkirk, which employs 370 people directly and 450 sub-contractors.

Estrosi added that Total was considering building a methane plant so as to offset the impact of any closure of the refinery on employment in the region.

Last week, the minister warned the government was ready to pressure Total to prevent it from shutting down the refinery in Dunkirk.

He noted then that President Nicolas Sarkozy had stepped in to tell carmaker Renault that it should not move production of its new Clio model to Turkey and he could do the same with Total.

"When the president's determination and that of the government is there, we can see that we can reverse, avoid and prevent a certain number of initiatives," Estrosi told France Info radio.

AFP / Expatica

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