By a Newsnet reporter
The union involved in a bitter dispute with the owners of the Grangemouth refinery has announced it is to hold a demonstration against what it called “threats” made by INEOS against workers at the plant.
Newsnet Scotland has learned that a demonstration has been called by Unite for this Sunday 20th October at 12 noon at Gate 4 of the plant.
The protest follows ultimatums that have been issued to workers at the refinery saying that unless they sign – by this Monday 21st – a new set of contract conditions that includes cuts to shift payments, bonuses and changes to pensions that Unite claims add up to £10,000 reduction per worker – Ineos will not reopen the plant that supplies Scotland and Northern England with virtually all its petrol and diesel.
On Wednesday, Ineos shut the plant down despite the union agreeing not only to cancel this weekend’s 48 hour strike, but also to pledge no strikes until at least New Years Eve, provided INEOS reopen production.
The company say the place is worthless and loss making, and needs huge investment from taxpayers, or else it faces closure. However Unite has accused the plant owners of using blackmail to “attempt to extort millions from the government.”
The plant’s owners are seeking commitments from both the Scottish and UK Governments worth hundreds of millions of pounds.
Expert economists hired by Unite have revealed what they say is evidence of ‘creative book-keeping’ used to paint a false picture of the site’s finances.
The latest escalation follows calls from First Minister Alex Salmond for both sides to resume talks and for the plant’s owners to “fire up the plant”, and resume processing. Mr Salmond also called on the union to put in writing its pledge to commit to a strike free policy until the end of the year.
Pat Rafferty, Unite’s Scottish secretary, called again on INEOS to abandon its plans to impose detrimental new terms on its Grangemouth workforce and to instead reopen the plant and return to mediated negotiations to secure the site’s future.
He said: “At Acas talks earlier this week, Unite committed to conducting no industrial action ballots or industrial action before 31 December 2013.
“This was on the basis that the company would not impose cuts on the workforce during the same period. Unite also proposed that these negotiations over the future of the site during this period would be held under the auspices of Acas.
“Today, if the company lifts the cuts agenda that it is imposing on its workers, then our offer still stands. If the company can provide that guarantee then there is no reason why the plant cannot return to production and both parties can return to negotiations immediately to secure the future of Grangemouth.
“But it is absolutely vital that INEOS removes its threats to the workforce immediately. We cannot work on a secure future for the site while the workforce is in fear for their jobs.”
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