Grangemouth: Union Backs Down 'To Save Plant'
The Unite union has confirmed it will now "embrace" a survival plan at Grangemouth in an effort to reverse a decision by the owner to close its petrochemicals plant.
The move was announced following talks between union officials and management at Ineos which could potentially also lead to fuel production resuming at the company's oil refinery after a shutdown of more than a week.
Unite's general secretary Len McCluskey said shop stewards had decided to accept the company's survival plan "warts and all" in the wake of the closure decision.
That included a pay freeze, ending of a final salary pension scheme and other changes to terms and conditions which had initially been rejected by staff in a union vote.
Mr McCluskey said: "We are not going to let this plant close.
"We have a situation whereby a company has put down an ultimatum and we have to respond. It is not how we engage in modern day industrial relations.
"My union is engaged with thousands of companies every day to negotiate plans to save jobs. There is nothing humiliating about negotiating plans to ensure jobs and communities are safe.
"This plant is on cold shut down and each day that goes by makes it harder to start back up again, which is why the stewards made the offer to the company - so that we can get people back to work."
Sources at Ineos told Sky News ahead of the meeting that any deal to re-open the chemical side of the operation would have to be rubber-stamped by a full meeting of Ineos shareholders.
The company had announced on Wednesday that it could not continue to operate the loss-making petrochemicals division, leaving 800 jobs at risk at the plant with many more contractors facing the axe too.
Ineos also confirmed that while it was not planning to close down the oil refinery, which produces 80% of Scotland's fuel supplies, it would remain shut for now pending reassurances from Unite that there would be no strike action.
Mr McCluskey arrived at Grangemouth this morning to join local efforts to resolve the dispute, hours after officials accused Ineos owner Jim Ratcliffe of deliberately engineering the chemical plant's closure.
Ineos argued it was left with no alternative but to close the petrochemical business, which makes products used in the manufacture of household goods such as plastic packaging.
Politicians had urged the two sides to resume talks to prevent the closure, while efforts are expected to continue to find a potential buyer in case the peace efforts fail.
Prime Minister David Cameron said today: "This is an important business for Scotland, it's a very important industry for the whole of the United Kingdom. We want to see those jobs saved, we want to see this business thrive, and I'm hopeful that agreements will be reached."