Union takes legal action against INEOS following convenor sacking

05 February 2014 12:06 Source:ICIS News

LONDON (ICIS)--UK-based union Unite is to pursue legal action against Switzerland-based chemicals producer INEOS over the sacking of union convenor Mark Lyon, it said late on Tuesday.

Unite claims that Lyon, a Unite vice-chair who served as convenor at INEOS’ Grangemouth, UK oil and petrochemicals complex, was tried in his absence and told of his dismissal on Tuesday, for not stopping the union from commenting on reports of planned job losses at the site in Scottish newspaper The Daily Record.

The union is to appeal the company's decision and issue an employment tribunal claim for unfair dismissal and victimisation, it added.

In a statement issued in response to Unite’s announcement, INEOS said, “INEOS has no comment to make at this time. This is a confidential issue between the company and Mr Lyon.”

News of Lyon's sacking follows the resignation of Grangemouth union convenor and Labour party member Stephen Deans, whose investigation by INEOS regarding his conduct in a local by-election formed the crux of the union’s industrial action at Grangemouth, in October 2013.

Deans resigned following the a bitter union defeat at the site, which saw Unite agree to pension revisions, a three-year pay freeze at Grangemouth, no strike action at the site for three years, and for no full-time union convenors to be present.

The Daily Record reported in early December 2013 that over 200 Grangemouth employees were to lose their jobs, due to the closure of several sites at the plant. INEOS has confirmed that Grangemouth’s naphtha cracker and downstream butadiene extraction plant are to close in 2015, while a benzene unit was expected to close by the end of 2013, but said that no material job losses are expected from the closures.

INEOS has denied plans for any large-scale redundancies at Grangemouth, noting that the closures are to take place alongside the ratcheting up of production at the site’s 700,000 tonne/year natural gas liquids cracker, which had been operating at around half capacity since 2008.

Unite added that there is medical evidence that Lyon is suffering from a stress-based illness, which it claims is due to the treatment he has received from INEOS. He had served with the company for 25 years, Unite added.

By Tom Brown