'Economic vandalism' by tycoon over closed refinery

Click to follow
The Independent Online

The billionaire industrial tycoon Jim Ratcliffe was accused of "economic vandalism" yesterday as Scotland's biggest oil refinery looked set to remain shut until at least next Tuesday despite the trade union Unite backing down on strike action.

The shutdown of the crucial Grangemouth refinery, jointly owned by Mr Ratcliffe's petrochemicals giant Ineos, threatens to cut petrol supplies in Scotland and northern England.

Unite called off a 48-hour strike due to begin on Sunday, but Ineos is so far refusing to reopen the site because the union refused to offer a no-strike guarantee in talks at conciliation service Acas.

Ineos said the site would "remain shut down" and accused the union of causing "significant further damage".

The union's regional secretary, Pat Rafferty, called the closure "reckless" and warned: "Ineos's decision to keep Grangemouth shut is an act of economic vandalism. There is absolutely no reason for the site to remain shut – the company is holding Scotland to ransom."

Ineos will put proposals to the workforce today for the Grangemouth site, which it warns is losing £10m a month and faces closure by 2017 unless its survival plan is adopted. The firm is willing to invest £300m in the site but wants to close the final-salary pension scheme for employees, which has a £200m deficit. The union does not accept Grangemouth is in financial distress.

The dispute initially centred on the treatment of employee Stephen Deans after he became embroiled in the dispute between Labour leader Ed Miliband and the union over the selection of a Labour party candidate in Falkirk.

Ineos is investigating Mr Deans's conduct but the union has agreed there will be no further industrial action on the issue.

Comments