A NEW war of words has broken out between the owner of the giant Grangemouth site and the union that represents staff, over warnings more job cuts are planned.
Unite said it believed as many as 200 workers were facing the axe under a shock move by Ineos to trim back on staff costs.
It comes less than two months after the plant was nearly closed following a bitter industrial dispute.
Ineos insisted job losses would total about 50 at most, and the vast majority of staff would either be unaffected or given different roles.
However Unite said the cuts were above and beyond those agreed by the union.
It also claimed five plants at the Grangemouth site had been earmarked for closure by Ineos.
For those staff who remain, the union said shift payments were expected to fall by £2,500 a year, while new employees would be put on to lower wages.
The latest developments come after October’s bitter stand-off between Ineos and Unite prompted company owner Jim Ratcliffe to announce the complete closure of the petrochemical site. He agreed to reverse that decision after Unite accepted the firm’s demands for reduced terms and conditions.
Ineos says the plant cannot survive in the global market unless it undergoes a radical transformation. Mr Ratcliffe has proposed a £300 million investment programme that he says will enable the firm to land shale gas from the United States.
The firm said this would guarantee Ineos’s future for at least the next three decades.
Unite said that, while it had accepted reforms to workers’ arrangements, the extra job cuts had not been factored in.
Its Scottish secretary, Pat Rafferty, said: “The high price Scottish and UK taxpayers, BP, the workforce and the wider community are paying to save Grangemouth is becoming clearer by the day. People with years of loyal service are paying with their jobs.
“While Ineos’ owner Jim Ratcliffe rejoins the billionaires’ club, they face a bleak Christmas and New Year, thanks to the price being exhorted by Ineos.
“It’s a price that would shame Scrooge and a price which could ultimately be self-defeating, leading to an exodus of the workforce and the senseless deterrent of skills from the site.
“Ineos may have their new ethanol tank and a future at Grangemouth, but everyone else, including the local economy, is taking a tanking to get it.”
Calum MacLean, chairman of Ineos Petrochemicals UK, rejected claims 200 job losses were planned.
He said the firm was aiming to transfer staff coming off plants that were closing on to assets that the firm was expanding at Grangemouth.
“There will be, at worst, limited job losses,” he said. “These losses may occur during the course of the next year.”
He insisted they would be “very small”, saying the “vast majority of people will be relocated to other roles on the site as and when we restructure the site”.
He said it would be “very difficult” to put a number on those affected. But he added: “We’re not talking about a big number – if I was to say 50 people, that would be a maximum.”