February 9, 2015 / 8:44 PM / 3 years ago

Union and Shell to resume talks Tuesday over U.S. refinery pact

HOUSTON (Reuters) - Royal Dutch Shell Plc (RDSa.L) and the United Steelworkers union (USW) will resume negotiations on Tuesday over a new labor contract for U.S. refinery workers, the company said on Monday as the walkouts stretched into their ninth day.

A worker from the United Steelworkers (USW) union walks a picket line outside the Shell Oil Deer Park Refinery in Deer Park, Texas February 1, 2015. REUTERS/Richard Carson

The first big refinery strike since 1980 started on Feb. 1 after Shell walked away from the negotiating table, with both sides disagreeing over the size of wage increases and how to monitor worker safety tied to fatigue.

Over the weekend, walkouts widened to include BP Plc’s (BP.L) Whiting, Indiana, refinery and its joint-venture refinery with Husky Energy (HSE.TO) in Toledo, Ohio.

In total, strikes have been called at 11 plants, including nine refineries that account for 13 percent of U.S. refining capacity. About 5,400 workers are now on the picket lines.

Companies have called on trained managers to keep their plants running at nearly normal levels, except for Tesoro Corp TSO.N, which opted to shut its Martinez, California, refinery as part of an already ongoing overhaul.

The USW began negotiations on Jan. 21 for about 30,000 workers at 63 plants. They are seeking wage increases, a tighter policy to prevent worker fatigue, and reductions in non-union contractors working in refineries.

On Monday, wholesale gasoline and diesel prices around Chicago, near Whiting, rose slightly relative to futures benchmarks on news of the wider strike.

Reporting By Erwin Seba and Terry Wade; Editing by Alan Crosby

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