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Shell Gabon employees end strike after deal

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PHOTO:AFP

PHOTO:AFP

Shell Gabon’s 400 staff have returned to work, ending an 11-day walkout after a deal was reached with management over the planned sale of the business, union sources said Monday.

“Work has resumed at all sites operated by Shell Gabon,” after the government helped mediate a deal regarding workers’ compensation, said the ONEP union which had originally organised the open-ended strike.

Royal Dutch Shell, one of the two historic operators alongside French group Total, is selling its Gabon oil assets.

The planned sale, worth an estimated $700 million, is part of a drive by Shell to spin off a total of $30 billion worth of assets to cut debt.

But the sale plans have worried the workforce, with the union saying Shell’s withdrawal from Gabon was detrimental to staff and they should be paid damages.

Shell is expected to sign a deal to sell the Gabon operations to US fund Carlyle this month, a source close to the talks said last week.

“We don’t comment on market rumours and we have nothing to add on this occasion,” the group said.

French group Perenco, present in Gabon since 1960, was also in the running to buy the Shell assets.

The 400 staff are expected to be retained by the company’s new owners.

Last week, the union said that the ongoing strike had led to production cuts of up to 50 percent, with lost output worth some $4.5 million.


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