Len McCluskey, general secretary of the Unite union, speaks to media in Grangemouth

Union 'to embrace' Grangemouth survival plan

Union bosses have decided to "embrace" a survival plan aimed at preventing the closure of the Grangemouth petrochemical site.

Unite's leader said the union was working to persuade owners Ineos to reverse yesterday’s shock decision to close the complex after a meeting at the site between general secretary Len McCluskey and union shop stewards.

McCluskey said the shop stewards had decided they had to embrace the survival plan, "warts and all", in the wake of the closure decision.

Workers at the petrochemical site, and adjoining oil refinery, had refused to sign up to the plan, which included a pay freeze, ending of the final salary pension scheme, and other changes to terms and conditions.

After a flurry of meetings with politicians and union officials held throughout the day, managers were said to be discussing "everything that has been said", before deciding whether to reverse the decision to close the petrochemical side of its business, with an announcement from the company expected tomorrow.

McCluskey said: "We are not going to let this plant close. We are encouraged by the comments of the First Minister that he too will not let this plant close. We have a situation whereby a company has put down an ultimatum and we have to respond. It is not how we engage in modern day industrial relations.

"My union is engaged with thousands of companies every day to negotiate plans to save jobs. There is nothing humiliating about negotiating plans to ensure jobs and communities are safe.

"This plant is on cold shut down and each day that goes by makes it harder to start back up again, which is why the stewards made the offer to the company so that we can get people back to work."

Unite said it had made a number of recommendations to owner Ineos, which yesterday announced the closure of the petrochemical plant with the loss of 800 jobs and potentially 2,000 more among contractors.

Tom Crotty, a director of Ineos, said the company would put Unite's proposals to shareholders if there was a "very significant" change from the union.

He told BBC Radio Scotland's Good Morning Scotland programme: "The management team on the site will listen to hear what Unite has said. If they believe there are substantive differences in where we are now then clearly they have a duty to take that back to the shareholders.

"The shareholders met after the vote on Monday and, quite understandably in my opinion, took a view that if the workforce had rejected that £300m investment, then how were they going to go ahead and make it if the workforce were not behind that? That is why the closure announcement has been made.

"If the management team feel that there is a very significant change then I'm sure they would probably feel they would need to take that back to the shareholders and have further discussions."

Scottish Finance Secretary John Swinney told the programme: "I hope that at this very, very, very late stage in the process there is a willingness to listen to and to consider the proposals being put forward.

"Everybody is agreed that this plant has a strong future with the necessary investment and that is why the Scottish Government is willing to be a player in that.

"We are now in a position at the very late stage of having the opportunity to have a discussion about some of the substantive issues that will affect the financial future of the plant and I hope that discussion this morning is constructive and successful."

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