22 October 2013 12:01 [Source: ICIS news]
LONDON (ICIS)--The deadline for employees at the oil and petrochemicals complex in Grangemouth, UK, to vote on proposals that owner INEOS claims are necessary for the plant's future has expired, the company said on Tuesday.
Employees had until the evening of Monday 21 October to submit their votes on a survival plan drawn up by the Switzerland-based chemicals company, which included alterations to current employee pension arrangements and the need to secure investment to develop a new terminal for US-derived shale gas at the site.
INEOS is to present the results of the vote at a shareholder meeting on Tuesday, and will inform the Grangemouth workforce of the shareholder outlook on Wednesday 23 October. INEOs started to take the Grangemouth site offline early last week, and the complex has been shut down since then.
The company did not give any indication as to the outcome of the vote, but trade union Unite said late on Monday that 665 Grangemouth employees had rejected the INEOS’ proposals at the time of the announcement, representing over 65% of site employees and 80% of the workers Unite bargains for.
“The shareholders at [Tuesday]’s meeting need to recognise the strength of feeling among the workforce and instruct senior managers to get back to [industrial dispute mediator] ACAS,” said Unite Scottish secretary Pat Rafferty.
Meanwhile, a Scottish government minister said on Tuesday that talks had taken place between the government and potential buyers for the plant, in the event of INEOS choosing to keep the site shuttered.
"We have certainly had discussions with other players and the Scottish government will engage in any discussions that are helpful to ensure Grangemouth can continue to make a major contribution to the health and well-being of the Scottish economy,” said Scotland's Finance Minister John Swinney, speaking in an a radio interview with the BBC.
He conceded that there is a “necessity” for investment at the site.
An INEOS spokesperson told ICIS that the company had been aware of the talks between the government and other parties, but that the site is too indebted to be an attractive acquisition target.
She said: “We were aware, that you need to remember that this is almost £300m (€353m, $484m) in deficit, so the buyers will have to make horrendous investments in order to keep the site going, so I think realistically that it’s not going to happen.”
($1 = €0.73, €1 = £0.85, $1 = £0.62)
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