Total announces closure of Dunkirk refinery

French oil giant Total has announced the closure of its Dunkirk refinery but vowed to protect workers, for whom it plans restructuring measures including a new fuel depot and training centre.


Oil giant Total announced the closure of its refinery in northwestern France on Monday but vowed to protect jobs by reassigning workers.

Refinery workers earlier threatened to create chaos in protest at the plant closure, rejecting a new gas project by Total as a weak effort to calm the dispute which shut down Total refineries countrywide for a week in February.

Total promised not to lay off the 370 workers at the refinery, for whom it plans restructuring measures, including a new fuel depot and training centre.

Some workers will move to Total refineries and other plants elsewhere in France and about 20 will be offered early retirement, a spokesman told AFP.

The Dunkirk plant also indirectly employs 450 at contractors.

Earlier Monday, Total announced plans to create at least 50 jobs by building a gas works in Dunkirk with energy distributor EDF.

The SUD union shrugged this off as a mere "public relations announcement" that would not help the Total workers it represents. Another key union, the CGT, threatened "fire and blood" if management did not offer more.

The Dunkirk refinery had been shut down since mid-January by a strike against plans to end its oil refining operations, cuts which Total say are necessary in the changing oil market.

Daily newsletterReceive essential international news every morning