Production at Shell’s 416,000-barrel per day Pernis refinery, one of the largest in the world, and 900,000-tonne a year Moerdijk chemical facility have been dramatically scaled back as around 60% of the workforce of the two production sites have walked out over a pension dispute.

Around 1,500 Shell workers in the Netherlands have chosen to strike according to Dutch union CNV because of proposed changes to the working of their pension schemes. Shell is reported to want to increase the retirement age by five years and force staff to make contributions starting from the beginning of January 2006.

With no plans for talks to resolve the dispute in place, the industrial action is set to expand with the addition of a further 1,000 strikers from Shell’s joint venture company with ExxonMobil.

According to a report from the AFX new agency, the strikers intend to completely shut down Shell’s affected facilities, which will take a week if a resolution is not found.