INEOS slams lack of union negotiation progress, begins shutdowns

15 October 2013 14:14  [Source: ICIS news]

Grangemouth refineryLONDON (ICIS)--Switzerland-headquartered chemicals producer INEOS said on Tuesday that it is “disappointed” at the lack of progress in its talks with trade union Unite following initiation of formal mediated talks regarding the upcoming shutdown of its Grangemouth, UK petrochemicals and refinery operations due to an employee walkout.

The company also announced late Monday evening that it has started to take down production units in anticipation of a full shutdown on 20 October, prompted by a 48-hour employee walkout announced last week.

The units are to be brought down to a cold standby, INEOS said, adding that it believes a hot standby state -which would be easier to return to normal operations - would be too dangerous to guarantee the safety of the site during the shutdown.

An INEOS spokesperson confirmed today that the pre-shutdown preparations are taking place at the INEOS-owned Grangemouth petrochemicals complex and the refinery operations, 50/50-owned by INEOS and Chinese firm PetroChina.

INEOS began talks with trade union Unite on the afternoon of 14 October at the Glasgow, UK offices of industrial dispute resolution group the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS).

The company criticised what it decribed as Unite’s unwillingness to discuss safeguards for fuel supply to Scotland during the walkout. The company has predicted that a walkout at the site could bring the country to a standstill.

“INEOS was extremely disappointed at the lack of progress at yesterday’s ACAS meeting following Unite’s refusal to engage in any discussions about protecting North Sea Oil flows and fuels for Scotland,” the company said.

INEOS also criticised the union’s decision that site employee representative Stephen Deans be present at the talks. The company’s decision to launch an investigation into the conduct of Deans, also a local Labour party representative, was the basis for Unite initiating a vote on industrial action at the site.

We remain hopeful that the union will agree to continue to provide steam to BP to ensure the ongoing operation of the Forties Pipeline System,” INEOS added.

According to figures derived from auditors PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) and released by INEOS on 14 October, the site lost £579m ($681m, $919m) between 2010 and 2013-to date, based on earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) and capital expenditure.

($1 = €0.74, €1 = £0.85, $1 = £0.63)

By: Tom Brown
+44 208 652 3214

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