The news that Ineos is to close its Grangemouth petrochemical plant - putting hundreds of jobs at risk - was met with dismay by local politicians and union representatives.
Councillor Craig Martin, leader of Falkirk Council:
“Today’s announcement by Ineos is devastating news for Grangemouth and the local area,” he said.
“The site is of critical importance to the local economy and the council will do everything in its power to help secure its future.
“Grangemouth has been at the heart of Scotland’s petrochemical industry for 90 years and it is imperative that its position as a major chemical complex and refinery is maintained. As well as the 800 Ineos jobs in the petrochemical plant directly affected, the plant is a major contributor to the local economy and its closure will have a huge impact on local communities.
“The future of the refinery is also under threat. This is of grave concern and it is essential that all parties get round the table again as soon as possible.
“The council has asked for urgent meetings with Ineos and the Scottish Government to discuss the consequences of this announcement. We are in close contact with Scottish Enterprise and will be meeting local MPs and MSPs later this week in response to this shocking news.”
Angus MacDonald, MSP for Falkirk East, which includes the Ineos site:
“This is clearly devastating news for the 800 workers and the town of Grangemouth. I am deeply disappointed by the decision taken by Ineos, and my sympathy goes out to the workforce and their families at this extremely challenging and difficult time.
“I am seeking an early meeting with the Scottish Government to encourage them to re-double their efforts to find a buyer for the plant. I will of course, as the local MSP, work with anyone in search of a viable future for the plant – it can and should have a viable future as this plant is too important a site to the Falkirk district and Scottish economies.
“I am saddened by the current stalemate between Ineos and Unite, however even at this late stage I would encourage both parties to continue dialogue – the workforce deserve nothing less.
“I understand Ineos have informed both the Scottish and UK Government’s that that the refinery will stay open and management wish to restart full operations as soon as possible. I am therefore calling on INEOS to fire up the refinery today!
“The Scottish Government has informed me that they have begun to look at contingency options, including actively pursuing potential buyers as a matter of extreme urgency, and I look forward to progress with that in the near future, including working with the First Minister and cabinet Secretary John Swinney to secure a new owner of the petro-chemical plant.”
Pat Rafferty, Unite Scottish secretary:
“Unite and our members at Grangemouth are devastated by the announcement this morning of the closure of the petrochemical plant. It has confirmed our fears that this was the intention of Ineos all along.
“Discussions have taken place with the company this morning and will continue over the course of the day. We have made further proposals in a last-ditch effort to stave off these catastrophic job losses which we believe are tantamount to economic and industrial vandalism.
“Make no mistake, one man is holding this workforce and this country to ransom and that man is Ineos owner Jim Ratcliffe.
“The ball is now in the court of Jim Ratcliffe and the respective governments in Edinburgh and Westminster and we await their responses.”
Eric Joyce, MP for Falkirk:
“The announcement by Ineos this morning that Grangemouth’s petrochemical plant is to close is terrible news. Hundreds of jobs lost directly, many more indirectly. The loss of a significant element of Scotland’s industrial capacity. Why has this happened?
“Ineos has been flagging likely cuts for months but instead of engaging with the situation and organising a coherent plan to save jobs, Unite called a strike over a pathetic and petty issue related to Labour Party internal politics. By the time the union woke up to the reality workers faced, it was too late.
“Of course the threat to the refinery itself is palpable, and of course local MPs, MSPs and ministers will do everything we can to try to find another buyer for the closed plant. But what’s the proposition as it stands? Come and enjoy a non-relationship with a militant union acting with its workers’ interests at the bottom of its priorities?
“Ineos is a very tough, world-scale company and exists to make as much money as it can – what did people think was going to happen once the company’s offer was rejected following the stupidest of strikes for the most idiotic of reasons?
Workers at Ineos need proper union representation – right now, they’re getting the fumbling, dumbed-down, politicised opposite.”