WORKERS at the Grangemouth oil refinery were today being given details of the plant’s survival plan, with its owners saying it was D Day for the site.
Owners Ineos said it was going directly to the employees rather than deal with the Unite union, amid fresh clashes over the company’s finances and its decision to close down the plant.
Ineos said Grangemouth will remain shut down while workers are consulted over proposed changes to issues such as pensions.
Unite, which has called off a planned 48-hour strike from Sunday, accused Ineos of “fancy accounting manoeuvres”, and challenged the firm’s statements about the financial difficulties it faces.
Ineos said the dispute with Unite over the treatment of union convenor Stephen Deans, had cost it £20 million at a time when Grangemouth was losing £10 million a month.
Chairman Calum MacLean said: “This is D Day for Grangemouth. The site is safely closed whilst we consult the workforce. If we can get the changes we want, the company has committed to investing a further £300 million in the site which will help secure its long term survival.
“The shareholders have expressed extreme concern that the industrial action over recent days has cost the site £20 million at a time when losses are already £10 million per month. The site cannot afford this - hence the urgent need for employees to decide to support the company.
“We are going to give our employees a few days over the weekend to reflect on our proposals and then get their feedback. This feedback will be critical in influencing the shareholders in their decisions about what to do next.”
Unite’s regional secretary Pat Rafferty accused Ineos of trying to “legally gag” the union over the firm’s finances.
“This attempt to tie our hands has only increased our suspicions that Ineos is using fancy accounting manoeuvres to pull the wool over the country’s eyes and treat us with contempt. The workers at Grangemouth and the people of Scotland have a right to see the truth. Thousands of jobs and the country’s economy depend on it.
“Ineos expects to make profits of half a billion pounds in the coming years, blowing a massive hole in the company’s claims that there are serious financial difficulties at its site in Grangemouth Scotland. We believe the site has a great future and a great workforce.
“The company gives the impression it is broke and it may need to close the Grangemouth site but we believe this is just a ploy to justify attacking its workforce and to demand government handouts.”
Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon told BBC Breakfast: “The message to both the management and the unions is that they have to come together, they have to talk and they have to find an agreement.
“The Scottish Government has been working very hard in recent days with both sides, we were instrumental in getting them to Acas, although there wasn’t an agreement struck there, it is now vital that an agreement is now struck.
“Because there is no strike planned for next week there is no short term threat of disruption to fuel supplies, the issue now is the long term future of the Grangemouth plant, both the petrochemical plant and the refinery and it’s absolutely vital that both sides come together.
“The Scottish Government stands ready to do anything we can to help but we can’t strike that agreement for them, they have to come together and do that.”
Mr Deans was involved in the row over the selection of a Labour candidate in Falkirk, where he is chairman of the constituency party.
He was suspended by Ineos and later reinstated, but is facing an internal investigation by the company over issues linked to the Falkirk affair.