Union, Shell discuss meeting on U.S. refinery strike: sources

admin   •   February 27, 2015   •   2199

Workers from the United Steelworkers (USW) union walk a picket line outside the Shell Oil Deer Park Refinery in Deer Park, Texas February 1, 2015.
CREDIT: REUTERS/RICHARD CARSON

(Reuters) – The United Steelworkers union (USW) and representatives for several U.S. refineries discussed on Thursday a possible resumption of face-to-face negotiations to settle a 26-day strike, two people familiar with the discussions told Reuters.

No date had been set as of Thursday for resuming direct meetings with Shell Oil Co, which is representing the refiners, the sources said.

About 6,550 USW members were on strike at 15 plants, including 12 refineries that account for one-fifth of national capacity.

“The USW continues to be ready and willing to resume negotiations with Shell at any time,” said union spokeswoman Lynne Hancock. “Other than that, I don’t have any information on when talks will resume.”

Shell Oil Co, the U.S. arm of Royal Dutch Shell Plc (RDSa.L), confirmed making contact with the union.

Direct meetings between negotiators for the USW and Shell broke off on Friday, after refinery owners balked at a possible settlement and the union ordered walkouts at three Motiva Enterprises LLC [MOTIV.UL] refineries co-owned by Shell.

The USW has said it is seeking to retain safety provisions from previous contracts and tighten fatigue standards for workers, as well as win back daily maintenance jobs now done by non-union contractors.

Shell and other companies have said the strike came about because of the union’s insistence on replacing the non-union contractors with USW members, which would impair management’s flexibility in refinery staffing.

Companies have called on temporary replacement workers to keep plants running at nearly normal levels.

(Reporting by Erwin Seba; Editing by Lisa Shumaker, Ken Wills and Gopakumar Warrier)

DOLE plans for post-COVID-19 scenario for workers

Marje Pelayo   •   April 9, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III announced Thursday (April 9) that his Department has formed a committee to prepare government measures that will help workers soon after the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic is over.

In an interview with the program Get It Straight with Daniel Razon, Bello cited temporary job allocation for informal workers like tricycle drivers and vendors.

“Iyong aming Tupad Program na nagbibigay kami ng trabaho for 10 days (Our ‘Tupad Program’ gives them work for 10 days). Actually hindi ito (this is not) dole out because they are working and then we give them a salary of a minimum wage for 10 days,” said Secretary Bello of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE).

Meanwhile, Bello said the current crisis has displaced around 150,000 overseas Filipino workers (OFWs).

To help them cope with the crisis, Bello said those who remain abroad will receive a one-time cash assistance of US$200 each while those who are already in the Philippines will receive the peso equivalent or P10,000.

“Nag-umpisa na ngayon ay nagpapadala na kami ng pera sa lahat ng sulok ng daigdig kung saan meron tayong mga OFW (We have started sending cash assistance to all overseas Filipinos workers worldwide),” the Labor Chief assured.

To date, the government has distributed almost P1-B cash assistance to formal and informal Filipino workers. MNP (with inputs from Aiko Miguel)

Trump urges U.S. to halt most social activity in virus fight, warns of recession

UNTV News   •   March 17, 2020

President Donald Trump urged Americans on Monday (March 16) to halt most social activities for 15 days and not congregate in groups larger than 10 people in a newly aggressive effort to reduce the spread of the coronavirus in the United States.

Announcing new guidelines from his coronavirus task force, the president said people should avoid discretionary travel and not go to bars, restaurants, food courts or gyms.

As stocks tumbled, Trump warned that a recession was possible, a development that could affect his chances of re-election in November. The Republican president said he was focused on addressing the health crisis and that the economy would get better once that was in line.

The task force implored young people to follow the new guidelines even though they were at lesser risk of suffering if they contract the virus. Older people, especially those with underlying health problems, are at the greatest risk if they develop the respiratory disease.

Reporters staggered their seating, sitting in every other seat in the White House briefing room, to follow social distancing measures.

Trump said the worst of the virus could be over by July, August or later. He called it an invisible enemy.

The president has taken criticism for playing down the seriousness of the virus in the early days of its U.S. spread. On Monday, when asked, he gave himself a good grade for his response.

“I’d rate it a 10. I think we’ve done a great job,” he said.

Trump said a nationwide curfew was not under consideration at this point.

Normally a cheerleader for the U.S. economy, he acknowledged the possibility of a recession while brushing off another dramatic decline on stock markets as investors worried about the virus.

“We’re not thinking in terms of recession, we’re thinking in terms of the virus. Once we stop, I think there’s a tremendous pent up demand, both in terms of the stock market and in terms of the economy,” Trump said. The president has long considered soaring stock markets to be a sign of his administration’s success.

Trump said the administration had talked regularly about domestic travel restrictions but hoped not to have to put such measures in place.

He said he thought it would still be possible for G7 leaders to meet at the Camp David retreat in Maryland in June. Trump upset European countries, which make up a large part of the G7, by instituting travel restrictions from European countries without consulting with them first. (Reuters)

(Production: Katharine Jackson)

Streets deserted in Milan during coronavirus lockdown

UNTV News   •   March 11, 2020

A handful of people were seen on the streets of Milan on Wednesday morning (March 12) following stringent measures imposed to contain the coronavirus.

Shops and restaurants closed, hundreds of flights were cancelled and streets emptied across Italy on Tuesday (March 10), the first day of an unprecedented, nationwide lockdown imposed to slow Europe’s worst outbreak of coronavirus.

Just hours after the dramatic new restrictions came into force, health authorities announced the death toll had jumped by 168 to 631, the largest rise in absolute numbers since the contagion came to light on Feb. 21.

The total number of confirmed cases rose at a much slower rate than recently seen, hitting 10,149 against a previous 9,172, but officials warned that the region at the epicentre, Lombardy, had provided incomplete data.

The government has told all Italians to stay at home and avoid non-essential travel until April 3, radically widening steps already taken in much of the wealthy north, which is the epicentre of the spreading contagion. (Reuters)

(Production: Marissa Davison)

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