Workers leave a meeting this morning where they learned that the decision to close the site, would be reversed

Grangemouth complex reopens after deadlock broken

The Grangemouth petrochemical site will remain open after the owners and Unite overcome a deadlock over workers’ conditions.

Owners Ineos made the decision to keep the site open this morning, following the union’s acceptance of a survival plan yesterday afternoon, including a pay freeze, ending of the final salary pension scheme and other changes to terms and conditions.

Ineos said on Wednesday it would close the site, which employs 800 employees, after about half of the workforce took Unite’s advice to refuse to sign up to changes that the company was demanding in return for investing £300m into the complex.

But workers were told at a meeting with managers this morning, that the company would immediately reopen the site and the adjoining oil refinery, which have been shut down for the past week as a result of the dispute.

Jim Ratcliffe, the 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 said Unite had made a "dramatic U-turn" and had agreed to a three-year pay freeze, no strikes for three years, moving to a "modern" pension scheme and changes to union agreements on the site including no full-time union convenors.

Tension between the union and Ineos had initially been sparked weeks ago by an investigation into Unite convenor Stephen Deans, who was involved in the row over a selection of a Labour candidate in Falkirk, where he is chairman of the constituency party.

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."

Politicians from the UK and Scottish governments have been pressing the two sides to break the deadlocked row, warning of the grim impact on the economy if the plant had closed.

Ineos has said the site is losing £10 million a month. A number of contractors have been laid off or switched to other sites.

Ineos said in a statement: "Unite's withdrawal of its opposition to the company's survival plan, which was already supported by 50 per cent of employees on the site, has allowed the shareholders to invest a further £300m in the company.

"This money will be used to fund on-going losses and to finance the building of a gas terminal to bring in shale gas ethane from the USA.

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

Unite's Scottish secretary, Pat Rafferty, 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 £300m 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 on to 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."

Downing Street said Prime Minister David Cameron's priority was to ensure the business survived.

"Any progress in that direction is very encouraging," a No 10 spokesman said. The spokesman said the Government had been working "very closely" with the Scottish Government on the issue.

Scotland's First Minister Alex Salmond said: "This news is a tremendous fillip for the workforce and the whole Grangemouth community, following what could have been a potential disaster.

He added: "There will no doubt be continued debate and recrimination in some quarters about why the future of this facility went so close to the cliff edge. However, as First Minister, I prefer to stress the positives including the fact that so many people have gone the extra mile to secure Grangemouth's future."

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