Unite the union, which has 60 members working for Shell at the UK Lubricants Centre in Stanlow – the country’s only producer of the high grade oils necessary for the defence industry – fears that the company will abandon the UK all together and leave skilled British workers on the scrapheap.
Shell, which has seen its profits soar by 54% to $18.6bn in 2010, has already sold off its last UK refinery and announced earlier this year that it is to shut its main research and development base at Thornton, Cheshire, as part of plans to shift its operations to Germany by 2014.
“With Shell now concentrating its research and development in Germany and other overseas centres, it looks like manufacturing lubricants will also move overseas,” said Linda McCulloch, national officer at Unite. “This is a huge blow for British manufacturing and a bitter pill for workers to swallow.”
Paul Done, senior representative at Unite added: “The closure of our plant will have a devastating impact on our members and the local community. It follows fast on the heels of its plans to shut its main UK research and development operations around the corner from us and spells the end of Shell in the UK.”