Shell and union to talk on day four of U.S. refineries strike

Wed Feb 4, 2015 2:26pm EST
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By Erwin Seba

HOUSTON (Reuters) - Negotiations will resume on Wednesday between Royal Dutch Shell Plc (RDSa.L: Quote) and union leaders as they haggle over a new wage contract for striking U.S. refinery workers, the company said.

The two camps have been in a stalemate since the United Steelworkers union (USW) called walkouts early on Sunday at nine plants with about 10 percent of U.S. refining capacity, saying Shell, the lead negotiator for the oil companies, left the negotiating table when talks broke down.

The talks have been tougher than in years past. A drop of more than 50 percent in oil prices since June has eroded profits of major oil companies, prompting executives to say they cannot afford to lift wages for workers.

"Talks are scheduled for today," Shell spokesman Ray Fisher said.

The union said in a text message that talks late on Tuesday made no progress and that they would resume on Wednesday. Shell called Tuesday's talks productive.

Further walkouts may be ordered at some of the other 63 refineries and chemical plants it represents if advances are not made, the union has said.

Neither side has said when on Wednesday they will meet.

Shell has declined to detail the nature of the negotiations.   Continued...

Members of the United Steel Workers union picket the Tesoro refinery in Carson, California February 2, 2015. REUTERS/Bob Riha, Jr.