The government of Scotland is considering finding a new buyer for the Grangemouth power plant

Grangemouth oil refinery might be sold to stop troubles

The Scottish Government is looking for potential buyers for the Grangemouth oil refinery as the majority of workers refuses to accept survival terms and conditions of the current operator.

The information was revealed by Scotland’s Finance Secretary John Swinney, who has admitted the dispute between the current owner Ineos and the Unite union regarding the changes to pay and pensions, was heading for a stalemate.

"I don't think it will come as any surprise to anybody that the Scottish Government is looking at alternative options and there will be other players around the globe who will be interested in this particular plant," he told BBC Radio Scotland's Good Morning Scotland programme.

"There are discussions that are under way which are going on with other parties. The Scottish Government will continue to pursue those discussions because we think that is the right and the responsible thing to do."

He also hinted the government is not considering buying out the plant as it believes it can successfully operate in the market without any state-backed intervention.

He urged Ineos to accept a trade union statement that there would be no strike action during negotiations at "face value". The plant, having been shut down since last week because of the dispute, is losing £10 million a month.

"I can see no good reason for the plant lying idle today and I think it should be started as a matter of urgency," Swinney said.

"The danger of the situation that I think we are in just now is that we are heading for a stalemate and in a situation of stalemate someone has to move to get things on the go."

The Unite union has welcomed the idea of finding a new buyer. "The First Minister is absolutely correct to raise the prospect of changed ownership at Grangemouth,” said Unite general secretary Len McCluskey said. “Unite will support him in whatever way we can to ensure a secure future for Grangemouth and its working community.”

The tension between the Unite union and Ineos has been piling up for several weeks, initially over the treatment of 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.

He was suspended, then reinstated, and is facing an internal investigation, which is due to report on Friday.

The dispute has since widened to the future of the entire site, with Ineos warning that it will close without fresh investment and changes to pensions and other terms and conditions.

Ineos shareholders are expected to meet today to discuss the dispute.

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