Mass redundancies announced at Tamoil refinery

'The great anger': workers at the Tamoil refinery in Collombey on Thursday Keystone

Tamoil’s Swiss branch is letting go a reported 272 workers at its refinery in the southwest of the country as a result of heavy financial losses. The refinery, loading station and storage tanks are up for sale. 

This content was published on January 29, 2015 - 16:47 and agencies

Tamoil, which has its headquarters in the Netherlands, has set itself a deadline of March 31 to find a buyer. 

Staff representatives on Thursday expressed their determination to Tamoil management of getting a social plan “that will live up to their expectations”. Negotiations are set to begin on February 5. 

The firm had announced on January 15 that it was “interrupting” work at its 55,000-barrel-per day refinery at Collombey, canton Valais, owing to “severe market pressures” caused by higher imports of refined, petroleum products, rapidly declining fuel demand and increasing regulatory costs. 

Tamoil, which bought the plant in 1990, employs 238 people at the 50-year-old refinery. 

Valais newspaper Le Nouvelliste reported on Thursday that the total number of job losses would be 272: 233 of the 238 staff, plus 14 apprentices and 25 people at Tamoil’s office in Geneva. 

Supply not endangered 

The Collombey plant is one of only two oil refineries in Switzerland; the other is located at Cressier, canton Neuchâtel. 

Martin Stucky, spokesman for the Swiss Petrol Union, told Le Temps newspaper two weeks ago that Switzerland’s oil supply would not be threatened were Collombey to close. 

Around 17% of all petroleum products consumed in Switzerland arrive via pipelines passing from Genoa along the Rhône Valley and ending up in Collombey, but these would easily be compensated for, Stucky said. 

“Switzerland would lose a degree of independence, but security over supplies is not at all in danger,” he said. 

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