The fight over severance pay at Chevron/Texaco is heading from the picket line to the courtroom as the energy firm rejected Labour Minister Dr Errol Cort’s recommendation that the workers be paid before the company is sold.
Both the rejection of the finding of a conciliation report and the filing of the case with the Industrial Court were confirmed yesterday by ministry spokesperson Carel Hodge in a brief cell phone conversation.
Chevron, which has agreed to sell its Caribbean and Central American fuel distribution businesses to French firm Rubis SA for about $300 million, has already faced two rounds of industrial action by about 24 employees over the issue.
A report penned by Dr Cort said that the recommendation was backed by 16 precedents and by general practice.
“In the premise, I am firmly of the opinion that the employees of Chevron are duly entitled to receive their severance payment from Chevron ahead of any sale of the company to Rubis,” was the opinion given by Dr Cort.
The report gave until yesterday at 10 am for the company to accept the labour minister’s position and avoid a court case.
Chevron has contended that as the operation will continue under different ownership, there is no need for such payments. The company is arguing that there will be no interruption in employment, despite the sale, so the employees should look to Rubis for employee benefits accumulated during Texaco’s 50 plus years of operation here.
No date has yet been announced for a hearing.