Doel, 5 October 2023. This morning, the management of INEOS Phenol Belgium SA announced at an Extraordinary Works Council meeting that the collective redundancy intention for the Doel site, as announced on 29 June this year, is withdrawn. The Board of Directors of INEOS Phenol came to this decision after evaluating the progress in the realisation of the plan for the future and the on-going information and consultation round.
Difficult information and consultation process
Following the declaration of intent to rearrange the organisational structure, the management immediately launched the information and consultation process this summer, as required by the Renault Act. Despite repeated attempts to hold a full and comprehensive consultation with the social partners, the management has to conclude that the process is extremely cumbersome with no prospect of a breakthrough. This is mortgaging the chances of a timely implementation of the new organisational structure envisaged from 2024 to strengthen the site's competitive position on the global market in order to secure the site for the future. The board of directors is therefore forced to terminate the current procedure and withdraw the intention of collective dismissal.
However, the need to build a more agile organisation and reduce labour costs remains undiminished. The management is now exploring alternative options to achieve this objective and will follow the usual legal procedures to do so. It also hopes to provide clarity to staff sooner in this way.
Importance realisation future plan to stay competitive
The proposed future plan aims to secure INEOS Phenol's competitive position as the largest phenol producer. In doing so, the company is responding to the difficult market conditions it has been facing for over a year: sharply reduced demand due to an unprecedented rise in energy prices, a cyclical slowdown and increased imports from Asian players seeking new outlets for their excess capacity. Due to this combination of factors, production at the Doel plant has been idle since October 2022.
The future plan provides for a reduction in labour costs, rearrangement of the production organisation as well as efforts in the areas of process technology, energy and logistics. For the latter 3 areas, in contrast to the consultation on the reduction of labour costs and adjusted organisational structure, significant progress has been made in recent months. The realisation of the plan should allow the organisation to resume production activities as soon as possible when demand picks up.
About INEOS Phenol
INEOS Phenol Belgium SA is part of the INEOS Group since 2001 and is the world's largest phenol production plant. It employs 182 people with an annual production capacity of 680 000 tonnes. The plant produces phenol, acetone and alpha-methylstyrene (AMS), basic chemicals used for a variety of industrial applications.
Phenol, via the intermediate bisphenol A (BPA), is mainly processed to produce polycarbonate, epoxy resins, phenol formaldehyde resins (PF resin) and nylon. The automotive and construction industries are the main end users for headlights, bumpers, the housing of mirrors and airbags, safety glass, wall plates and insulation materials, among others. The main application of acetone is plexiglass and solvent, which is used for medicines and adhesives, among others. AMS is used to produce heat-resistant ABS with application in the automotive industry. Other applications can be found in textiles (bicycle and ski clothing), inks and paints, electronics (screens of smartphones and laptops) and the blades of wind turbines.
More information: https://www.ineos.com/businesses/ineos-phenol/markets/