Relief all round as Ineos confirm Grangemouth site will stay open

Ineos employees share their relief at the petrochemcial plant staying open
Ineos employees share their relief at the petrochemcial plant staying open

Ineos has agreed to open its petrochemical site again just 48 hours after announcing it was to close for good.

The situation was confirmed at the site just after 11 a.m. and the firm said it will also immediately restart the oil refinery.

In order to get the site open again Union Unite had to agree not to strike for three years and agree to terms of the Ineos survival plan.

Calum MacLean, Grangemouth chairman said: “Unite risked 800 jobs and one of the UK’s largest manufacturing facilities over a union official investigation before any verdict had been announced.

“It then advised employees to reject the change essential to the survival of Grangemouth. Today’s U turn means Grangemouth now has an excellent future.”

The Scottish government has indicated it will support the company’s application for a £9 million grant to help finance the terminal and the UK Government has given its prequalification approval for a £125 million loan guarantee facility.

Jim Ratcliffe, chairman of INEOS Group, said: “This is a victory for common sense. Unite advised employees to reject change and vote for closure. Thank goodness people finally came to their senses.

“Grangemouth now has a great future.”

Ineos had been due to conclude its investigation of employee and union representative Stephen Deans today. However, Mr Deans, whose perceived mistreatment at the hands of management was part of the dispute between Unite and Ineos, has reportedly asked for a few days to look over the evidence presented by the firm.

Welcoming the news of the site opening, Pat Rafferty, Unite Scottish secretary, said: “This decision is clearly very welcome. Relief will ring right round the Grangemouth community, and across Scotland today.

“Hundreds of jobs that would have been lost can now be saved and £300 million will be invested into the plant. Grangemouth is the powerhouse of the Scottish economy - it now has a fighting chance of upholding this crucial role into the future.

“Obviously today’s news is tinged with sadness, decent men and women are being asked to make sacrifices to hold onto their jobs, but the clear wish of our members is that we work with the company to implement its proposals.

“Unite has worked tirelessly to save Grangemouth because we are totally committed to this plant and its incredible workforce. We will now sit down with Ineos to consult on the company’s proposals.”

STUC General Secretary Grahame Smith’s relief gave way to concern for the terms workers had to agree to in order to keep the plant open.

He said: “Never in my 30 years at the STUC have I seen a union placed in such an impossible industrial relations position by a company. The company effectively went on strike against its own workers, the local community and the people of Scotland.

“Unite are to be congratulated for refusing to allow the plant to close, proving beyond doubt the strength of their commitment to the site.”

Falkirk East MSP Angus MacDonald welcomed the news and thanks his boss Alex Salmond for his part in the outcome.

He said: “Today’s announcement will come as a huge relief not only to workers at Grangemouth, but to people and businesses in communities across the Falkirk district and beyond that would have been affected by closure of the site.

“Recent days have been horrendous for everyone involved but today we have the news we wanted, that Grangemouth will stay open and the plant will be fired up again. Everyone who played a part in these negotiations has worked incredibly hard to resolve this dispute and secure a future for Grangemouth and the jobs of people working there.

“I would however like to pay particular thanks to First Minister Alex Salmond and Cabinet Secretary John Swinney who have worked tirelessly behind the scenes to get the situation resolved.

“The workers at Grangemouth have made significant sacrifices to secure a positive future for the site and with the investment package that has been announced I firmly believe that Grangemouth has a bright future ahead of it.”

The news was also a great relief to Falkirk Council leader Craig Martin and his colleagues across all parties.

Councillor Martin said: “This is the best possible outcome for all concerned, particularly the employees and contractors whose jobs were under threat. There has been a tremendous effort behind the scenes to secure the plant’s future involving UK and Scottish Governments and Falkirk Council, working together to ensure the plant’s survival.

“We welcome the company’s decision to invest £300m in the site and the news the site will remain at the heart of the petrochemical industry in Scotland. Supporting the local business community is still a priority and the council will set up a task force as a precaution to support any job loses and focus on the area’s economic future.”

Ineos announced on Wednesday the site was closing, stating liquidators were due to come to the plant next week.

However, Unite’s guarantee there would be no industrial action for three years and its agreement on Thursday to embrace the firm’s survival plan and the associated change to pensions, pay and conditions led to optimism the petrochemical plant could be saved.

It was reported an agreement had been drawn up for workers to sign, which would need approval from major Ineos shareholder Jim Ratcliffe.

On Thursday, Scotland’s finance secretary John Swinney and the Scottish Secretary Alastair Carmichael held talks with unions and management at the site and stated afterwards they were hopefully of a positive outcome.