Staff across the 2.5 square mile site attended their posts yesterday despite much of the plant being shut down. Many are thought to have left at lunchtime, after meetings with management and unions, while others departed at about 4pm.
Employees spoke of their fears for their jobs, and the potential impact on towns in Stirlingshire and West Lothian.
Lisa Crawford, 31, a technician from Falkirk, started work at Grangemouth at 16 as an apprentice. She told The Scotsman: “It’s a really scary time for us. A really high percentage of the workers live in the surrounding area and if the plant closed the effect would be devastating. It’s such a hub of the economy.”
She went on: “We realise the position the company is in and we are ready to negotiate. We know that if Ineos gets this methane tank [to process shale gas from the United States] built then there will be a future for us, and we’d be willing to accept a few years of hardship if we knew there would be rewards in the future.
“But to accept the kind of cuts to our pay and pensions the company is suggesting, without knowing what will happen next, is too much. We’re worried if we agree then next year there would be more pay and pension cuts.”
Karina Goldie, 25, an airport worker from Bo’ness, was visiting the town yesterday and said: “There are a lot of people in Bo’ness who work at the refinery, and in all the towns in the area.
“It’s also worrying about what might happen with the fuel supply. People would be panic-buying, there’s no doubt about it. I’m worried about how I’d get to work.”