Union may back Ineos survival plan
Last updated 1 hour ago
Unite could be set to agree to the “survival plan” set out by Ineos, which will see changes to workers’ terms and conditions
The union representing workers at Grangemouth’s petrochemical plant could be set to agree to the “survival plan” set out by majority owner Ineos.
About half the workforce at the complex had rejected new terms and conditions proposed by Ineos, prompting the firm to announce the plant’s closure.
Subject to agreement by the workforce, Unite may now accept the changes in a “last-ditch effort” to keep it open.
The union is to present its proposals to Ineos at a meeting on Thursday.
It remained hopeful, along with the Scottish and UK governments, that the company would reverse its decision.
However, the company had said while further meetings would be held in the coming days to discuss redundancies, there were “no prospects” of returning to conciliation service Acas to revisit the decision to close the petrochemical plant.
Previously, Ineos had said it was ready to invest £300m in Grangemouth if workers agreed to the new terms and conditions.
About 800 of the 1,370 people directly employed at the complex work at the petrochemical plant, with many more working there as contractors.
The dispute at the plant, near Falkirk, began over the treatment of a Unite union official and escalated to the threat of strike action.
This was dropped but the operator shut down the plant and issued an offer of revised terms and conditions in a “survival plan”, which was rejected by union members.
Ineos chairman and founder Jim Ratcliffe had said at the weekend that if the petrochemical plant closed it was likely the neighbouring refinery would go as well.
The refinery provides most of the fuel to Scotland, the north of England and Northern Ireland.
Ineos had said liquidators for the petrochemical plant would be appointed within a week.
Unite’s Scottish secretary Pat Rafferty said the union had made further proposals in an effort to “stave off catastrophic job losses”.
Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond spoke again to management and unions to try and seek further resolution. He also convened an emergency cabinet meeting with relevant ministers to discuss the on-going situation.
Afterwards he said there was still room for negotiation between both parties, particularly since Unite had put forward fresh proposals to the company.
Mr Salmond said: “We should give time for the proper consideration of this offer, especially given that we know an agreement between both sides was very close last week, and the prize is a viable future for Grangemouth.
“However, given that the current position is the one we always feared possible given the stalemate between the sides, if an agreement between Ineos and Unite is not possible then we will continue to pursue our contingency options of finding a buyer for the site.”
Ministers – including the Scottish Secretary Alistair Carmichael and the Energy Secretary Ed Davey – met in London to discuss this issue.
Mr Carmichael told BBC’s Newsnight Scotland programme that Mr Davey had a 40-minute “positive” talk with Ineos owner Jim Ratcliffe.