Union brands Petroineos' Grangemouth job cut proposals 'premature'

As workers at Petroineos prepare to enter consultations for their future employment union Unite is demanding the petrochemical giant to reconsider its restructuring plans.

By James Trimble
Tuesday, 10th November 2020, 4:40 pm

Earlier today Petroineos announced it was “restructuring” to a smaller operation in Grangemouth – meaning up to 200 jobs could be lost.

The proposal, which was announced by the company at noon today, will see Petroineos mothball its Crude Oil Distillation Unit, CDU 1, and Fluidised Catalytic Cracker Unit, which it stated had been closed throughout the COVID-19 pandemic due to “significantly reduced local and international demand for fuels.”

The significantly smaller refining operation at Grangemouth will require 450 jobs – meaning around 200 employees could be let go.

Sign up to our daily The Falkirk Herald Today newsletter

Petroineos has announced a major restructuring process which could see 200 jobs being cut at the Grangemouth site

Consultations with employees are scheduled to start on Monday, November 16.

Unite has requested the company utilise the five-month extension of the UK Government's furlough scheme to provide more time to explore alternative options to save jobs at the plant.

Sandy Smart, Unite industrial officer, said: “We are deeply concerned Petroineos’s plans to mothball two of its units based at the Grangemouth refinery, which could lead to the loss of 200 highly-skilled jobs.

“We are acutely aware of the very challenging market conditions brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic that has resulted in a lower demand for fuels but there is now a vaccine within grasp which could significantly effect demand in the coming months.

"We firmly believe the proposal is premature and Petroineos should instead be discussing with us how to effectively use the extension in the UK Government's furlough scheme to give us more time to explore every option.

“The workforce also needs assurances from the company over the medium and long-term security of the plant. Unite will be entering a formal consultation process with the company but we will be insisting that any job losses, if they are to occur, then this should be on a voluntary basis.

“However, let me repeat, it's our belief these job losses can be averted and we call on Petroineos to work with us to deliver this objective."

The Scottish Green Party also called for support for the workers at the Grangemouth site at this time.

Gillian Mackay, Scottish Green Party Central Scotland Holyrood 2021 candidate, said: “The Scottish Greens have for some time called for a workers’ led transition at Grangemouth and in the oil and gas industry more generally.

“We know that if Scotland is to meet our climate targets then a collective focus on supporting workers is required. It’s essential that ministers pull out all the stops to support those who have been impacted by this devastating announcement today.

“But the Scottish Government must also get the just transition board it has promised for the site up and running urgently, ensuring that trade unions are prominently represented on the board.”

Earlier today Falkirk Council leader Cecil Meiklejohn said she hoped the local authority’s economic recovery plan would be of assistance to the company, the workers and the local community at this dark time.

She added: “We are obviously concerned and keen to work with the company, Scottish Government and other partners to help reduce the impact for the community. Petroineos is a valued partner in these plans and we will work with them to help sustain the opportunities at their site over the longer term.”

Thank you for reading this article on our free-to-read website. We're more reliant on your support than ever as the shift in consumer habits brought about by Coronavirus impacts our advertisers.

Please consider purchasing a subscription to our print newspaper to help fund our trusted, fact-checked journalism.