The news has sent shockwaves amongst workers, their families and the entire local community at Port-Jerome-sur-Seine. Trade unions have launched unitary mobilisation to safeguard jobs and demand dialogue on alternative plans which have actually already been elaborated. The CFE-CGC, FO, CFDT and CGT chemical federations, as well as the local public authorities, are calling ExxonMobil management to rethink a plan which would destroy a core industrial activity for the region and impact all the subcontracting chain and service businesses attached to it. 

Judith Kirton-Darling, industriAll Europe General Secretary, said: 

“No to deindustrialisation! IndustriAll Europe opposes a brutal decision which destroys industrial capacities. Merely slashing jobs and an entire branch of activity cannot be a sensible corporate strategy which, on the contrary, must instead focus on accompanying the transition of chemical businesses through anticipation, investments and social dialogue on alternatives. Companies have a duty to secure that no one and no region is left behind. ExxonMobil’s approach is the exact opposite to the Just Transition that Europe and industrial workers need.” 

Having already undergone restructuring in France, Belgium and Italy in the past, the new announcement comes as an indication of ExxonMobil’s gradual divestment from Europe. While the company decreases its chemical footprint in the European market, it continues to plan investments increase in its chemical operations in the US, a decision driven by the Inflation Reduction Act which continues to stimulate industries on the other side of the Atlantic.

This situation underscores two key demands of industriAll Europe: the necessity for a European Just Transition Policy Framework, capable of anticipating changes and facilitating job-to-job transitions through upskilling and re-skilling programs for workers, and the urgency to halt the European Parliament's vote on new economic and governance rules, which could restrict funding for European industries amid the digital and green transition.
But the impact does not stop there. ExxonMobil has also announced its intention to sell it Fos-Sur-Mer refinery, which is raising additional questions about guarantees for the future of the 310 impacted jobs.

As trade unions rally for support and solidarity, IndustriAll Europe will continue to advocate for a Just Transition Directive, which includes tools to anticipate change and ensure that no one is left behind, social conditions for companies receiving public investments to guarantee the reskilling and upskilling of workers, and the necessity for substantial investments in European industries to achieve our climate-neutral targets.