Grangemouth petrochemical plant is burning issue at Scottish Parliament

Angus MacDonald
Angus MacDonald

The ongoing crisis at the Ineos petrochemcial plant was highlighted at the Scottish Parliament this week.

Falkirk East MSP Angus MacDonald took the opportunity afforded by the parliament’s topical question time on Tuesday to ask cabinet secretary for finance, employment and sustainable growth John Swinney what discussions the government has had with Ineos and union Unite regarding the current dispute at the plant.

Unite members have begun a work-to-rule and overtime ban in protest against management’s perceived mistreatment of employee and union official Stephen Deans.

Mr MacDonald said he was pleased to be able to bring the matter to the attention of the chamber and Mr Swinney stated the Scottish government has had a number of discussions with senior management at Ineos and Unite over the past few weeks in relation to the inquiry into the conduct of Mr Deans, pension negotiations and the long-term future of the site.

Mr Swinney added: “We will continue those active discussions in the days ahead. We are disappointed the discussions between Ineos and Unite have yet to resolve the issues, and we urge the union and Ineos managers to work together to achieve a settlement.

“The Scottish Government will do all it can to assist in resolving the outstanding issues with the objective of securing the future of the site.”

The dispute comes at a time Ineos, after reportedly making a total loss of £579 over the last four years, claims its petrochemical site is battling for survival and, if things stay the way they are, will close down in 2017.

Last week the firm reduced the value of its petrochemical plant from £400 million to zero and revealed it was looking for a £150 million bailout from the Westminster and Scottish governments to keep the site open.

At Tuesday’s meeting, Mr MacDonald said: “The threat by Ineos to close the petrochemical plant by 2017 has created a degree of nervousness and anxiety in the local community, as such a move would have a major impact in the Falkirk district and in Scotland as a whole.”

Mr MacDonald asked Mr Swinney if he could keep him up to speed with any progress made between management and the union over the coming days and weeks.