ZWIJNDRECHT, Belgium (June 12) — Trade unions at Lanxess Rubber N.V. in Zwijndrecht, Belgium, have called on members to strike over a dispute involving bonus payments. Lanxess said it expects all output from the plant to cease while the strike continues.
Lanxess said the workers recently ratified a contract excluding a range of bonus payments in favor of a fixed-pay scheme. Lanxess recently introduced a global bonus plan to other employees, but the hourly workers at Zwijndrecht during contract talks refused to discuss variable pay, which would have been the base for future bonus payments, according to Lanxess management.
Paul Van Damme, managing director of Lanxess Rubber N.V., said breaking social peace within weeks of concluding a labor agreement with the management is an irresponsible act. Lanxess´ management said it is deeply concerned about the prospects for the Zwijndrecht site and negative consequences for its 500 employees.
The factory has capacity for about 130,000 metric tons a year of butyl and halobutyl rubber following a capacity expansion that came on stream in early 2006. This represents almost half of the firm´s total butyl capacity. The company also operates a plant at Sarnia, Ontario, which is nearing completion of an expansion to about 140,000 tons a year.
A year ago, Lanxess management announced a plan to achieve savings of about $26 million annually at the Zwijndrecht plant. The company said the savings would be achieved through structural measures such as asset consolidation and process optimization, but did not expand on the measures nor did the company mention any job losses at the time.