State-owned oil company Neste announced in September a plan to "restructure" and "ensure the competitiveness" of its petroleum-based business.
This "restructuring" plan included the closure next spring of its refinery in Naantali and a number of redundancies then estimated at 470 and which now, with the co-determination negotiations concluded, has been reduced to 370.
"The co-operation negotiations have been concluded, and as a consequence, the company has decided to shut down its refinery operations in Naantali by the end of March 2021," the company said in a press release. In future, the firm will focus the Naantali site on the terminal and harbour operations, as well as renew its Oil Products operating model.
The company estimated in its earlier announcement that the plans, when implemented, would mean up to 470 redundancies, including possible outsourcing. Now the firm says that "together with the employee representatives, a solution was found that reduced the total number of redundancies from what was previously presented."
The shutdown of the Naantali refining operations and the renewal of the Oil Products operating model will lead to approximately 370 redundancies.
Workers criticize the company
However, the result of the negotiation has not satisfied all the participants. In a joint bulletin, the representatives of the workers who have participated in the negotiations criticized the attitude of the company, due to the limited scope for seeking solutions.
"We did not have enough information, time or opportunity to prepare alternative solutions. It would seem that the outcome of the negotiations was predetermined", they said.
"Neste’s story began in Naantali, so I understand that this news might be difficult to receive. Over the years, our Naantali people have shown tremendous cooperation and innovation skills in many difficult situations, and we can be proud of that. But now we are in a situation where we do not have any other options. We will support our people in adapting to this change in several ways,” says Neste’s President and CEO Peter Vanacker.
For those whose employment will end, Neste says it will offer "retirement agreements and specific support packages, including also startup grants to support education or entrepreneurship."
Savings of 50 million per year
With these measures, the company expects to reduce annual fixed costs by around 50 million euros.
Neste justifies its decision by the continuous drop in demand for products derived from fossil fuels, combined with the expected growth of renewable energy solutions in the coming years. According to the company, the Covid-19 pandemic has "substantially accelerated the decline in demand for oil products, which is not expected to recover to previous levels."