16 October 2013 10:39 [Source: ICIS news]
LONDON (ICIS)--Trade union Unite said on Wednesday that a strike at INEOS’ Grangemouth, UK, site has been called off.
The strike has been cancelled “to protect national assets” following the breakdown of negotiations between the two parties, Unite said. The Grangemouth oil refinery, joint-owned by INEOS and PetroChina, is a key supplier of fuel to Scotland and northern England.
INEOS and Unite had been in talks at the Glasgow, UK, office of industrial conflict resolution body, the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS) since 14 October.
“INEOS representatives walked away from ACAS talks, after 16 hours of negotiation and on the cusp of an agreement, for the ludicrous reason that INEOS chairman Jim Ratcliffe instructed his management representatives to demand an apology on his behalf,” said Unite Scottish Secretary, Pat Rafferty.
“Unite offered INEOS every proposal we could practically make, specifically an offer to enter into negotiations under the auspices of ACAS to secure the future of Grangemouth, with the immediate call-off of all industrial action and a guarantee of no strikes during these negotiations,” he added.
However, the INEOS-owned petrochemicals facility at the site has already been shut down in anticipation of the walk-out, the company said on Tuesday, and it could take several weeks to bring the complex back online. The refinery units were also in the process of being put on cold standby at the time.
Unite slammed the company’s decision to proceed with a cold standby instead of a hot standby, which would be quicker to restart, but INEOS has claimed that it would be dangerous to keep the site on hot standby during the strike, which was scheduled to run for 48 hours from 20 October.
“[Ratcliffe] is now systematically running the Grangemouth refinery and petrochemical sites into a damaging cold shutdown which will impact on fuel production and supply across Scotland,” Rafferty said.
“The safety and integrity of the site and the local population are now paramount and we have an obligation to ensure that INEOS does not permanently decimate the plant's assets and the workforce with this cold shutdown... The plant should now start the return to full production and there is no excuse for this not to happen,” he added.
Grangemouth employees voted for industrial action in late September following INEOS’ decision to launch an investigation into the conduct of Stephen Deans, a site union representative and member of the local Falkirk Constituency Labour Party (CLP).
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