14 October 2013 11:05 [Source: ICIS news]
LONDON (ICIS)--Switzerland-based chemicals producer INEOS is set to begin talks on Monday with UK trade union Unite in a bid to avert an upcoming walkout at its Grangemouth UK site.
The company said over the weekend that it is to begin talks with the union at the Glasgow, UK, offices of industrial dispute resolution group, the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS) on Monday afternoon.
The news follows an announcement by Unite on 11 October that employees at the site would strike from 07:00 GMT on 20 October until the same time on 22 October over the company’s decision to launch an investigation into site union representative and local Labour party member Stephen Deans.
INEOS has said that a strike at the refinery “could effectively shut much of Scotland”.
Unite has accused the chemicals producer of declining to enter into mediation talks with ACAS, refusing the offer of an independent Unite-funded financial survey of the site, and turning down several undisclosed transition proposals for the site.
INEOS responded that avenues for negotiation remain and that Unite had been premature in calling for a strike.
Speaking on 12 October, Grangemouth Petrochemicals UK chairman Calum MacLean said, “We were in meetings with Unite as late as yesterday and discussions have certainly not been exhausted. We told them that we would be willing to go to ACAS at the appropriate time but rather than negotiate they prefer to strike”.
Later in the weekend, he added, “We have always been prepared to go to ACAS if this helps to resolve a strike that Grangemouth petrochemical plant and refinery cannot afford.”
INEOS claims that the site is loss-making, and that it will close by 2017 if grants and guarantees cannot be provided by the UK and Scottish parliaments for it to upgrade site infrastructure to allow the import and use of shale-derived feedstocks from the US.
The site has lost £576m (€678m, $914m) over the last four years, and pension costs are 65% of salary, according to the company.
($1 = €0.74, €1= £0.85, $1 =£0.63)
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