HOUSTON (Reuters) - The United Steelworkers union (USW) and lead refinery owner representative Shell Oil Co discussed on Thursday a possible resumption of face-to-face negotiations to settle the U.S. refinery strike, which was in its 26th day, people familiar with the discussions told Reuters.
No date had been set as of Thursday for resuming direct meetings, the sources said.
About 6,550 USW members were on strike at 15 plants, including 12 refineries that account for one-fifth of national capacity.
Direct meetings between negotiators for the USW and Shell, which is the U.S. arm of Royal Dutch Shell Plc, broke off on Friday, after refinery owners balked at a possible settlement and the union ordered walkouts at three Motiva Enterprises [MOTIV.UL] refineries co-owned by Shell.
The USW has said it is seeking to retain safety provisions from previous contracts and tighten fatigue standards for workers, as well as win back daily maintenance jobs now done by non-union contractors.
Shell and other companies have said the strike came about because of the union's insistence on replacing the non-union contractors with USW members, which would impair management's flexibility in refinery staffing.
Companies have called on temporary replacement workers to keep plants running at nearly normal levels.
(Reporting by Erwin Seba; Editing by Lisa Shumaker and Ken Wills)