September 25, 2018 / 1:28 PM / 20 days ago

Production at Dutch Akzo Nobel plants hit by strikes

AMSTERDAM, Sept 25 (Reuters) - Paints and coatings maker Akzo Nobel's largest Dutch plant was operating at 40 percent of capacity on Tuesday, as workers began a 48-hour strike for better pay and higher pensions, a spokesman for the company said.

Around 10 percent of the 1,200 workers at Akzo Nobel's factory in Sassenheim joined the strike, the spokesman said, in a conflict that is focused mainly on the unions' demand that Akzo injects an extra 400 million euros ($471 million) in its pension fund.

Unions also demand a 3.5 percent pay rise. So far, Akzo has offered to increase wages, but has denied any demand for extra contributions to the pension fund.

Work stoppages were also causing a smaller Dutch factory to run at half its capacity on Tuesday, Akzo said, and were expected to hit production at a third plant on Thursday.

The company said it was too early to estimate the costs of the strikes.

Akzo Nobel earlier this year sold its Specialty Chemicals division for 10 billion euros to Carlyle Group, after it fended off an unwanted takeover offer from U.S. rival PPG Industries last year.

Unions demand the company uses part of those proceeds to shore up its pension fund, so that pensions can be raised to match inflation. ($1 = 0.8486 euros) (Reporting by Bart Meijer, editing by Louise Heavens)

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