Union officials claim Ineos is “preparing for a war” rather than trying to find a resolution to a heated dispute at its Grangemouth site.
Last week Calum MacLean, chairman of Olefins and Polymers Europe, warned the site’s petrochemical plant would close by 2017 if big changes were not made.
He said the costs of fuelstock and maintaining the workers’ pension scheme were creating major difficulties.
But a row over an investigation into union convener Stephen Deans could be the spark that sets things off.
Unite insists Ineos has been preparing for the eventuality of a strike since August, before any negotiations had taken place or decision to ballot had been taken.
Pat Rafferty, Unite regional secretary, said: “This shows they are not looking for resolution they are looking for a conflict. Instead of negotiating with us, Ineos is preparing for war. It is in its power to resolve this now. Our door is still open.”
The company says it is acting properly in investigating alleged non-work-related activities of Mr Deans.
However, Mr Rafferty said: “Stevie has already been the subject of investigations by the Labour Party, Police Scotland and Ineos site management who all found he had done nothing wrong.
“Now high level Ineos management has pushed for yet another investigation when this should all have been put to rest by now.”
Unite believes management’s claims about the bleak future of the petrochemical plant serve one purpose.
“They are trying to influence people into voting negatively,” said Mr Rafferty.
“Trying to scare members into voting no to a strike. The business is not doing as well as it could and that’s why we instigated talks with Ineos last year ... that they walked away from.”
The result of Unite’s ballot will be revealed tomorrow.