Union accuses Ineos of 'putting a gun to the heads of its workers'

Britain's biggest union has accused the billionaire owner of Grangemouth of using "menacing" tactics and "cynical blackmail" as Scotland's largest oil refinery remains shut despite workers withdrawing their strike threat.

The Unite union said it is considering legal action against Ineos, the operator of the Grangemouth oil refinery and petrochemical plant, which is jointly owned by the billionaire industrial tycoon Jim Ratcliffe.

A dispute over worker conditions had led Unite to call a 48-hour strike, due to begin on Sunday, and Ineos responded by starting a shutdown at the plant. Unite then called off the action, but as it refused to offer a no-strike guarantee in talks at the conciliation service Acas, Ineos declared that the refinery will remain shut until at least Tuesday.

Unite said it was looking to take legal action "over Ineos's 'sign or be sacked' ultimatum to slash jobs, pay and pensions". The union claimed that Ineos told workers they could lose their jobs and then be re-employed on poorer terms unless they agree to give up their final-salary pension and accept pay freezes and pay cuts by a deadline of 6pm on Monday.

Pat Rafferty, Unite's Scottish secretary, said: "This is cynical blackmail from a company that is putting a gun to the heads of its loyal workforce. We are considering taking legal action over the company's menacing tactics and urge members not to be threatened into signing their livelihoods away. We will not allow such an important national asset to be held to ransom and urge Ineos to... engage meaningfully with the workforce over a transitional agreement."

Ineos claimed it had offered staff "a top-quality money-purchase pension scheme to replace the unaffordable final salary scheme", as well as other payments. Calum MacLean, chief executive of Ineos Refining, said: "This is D Day for Grangemouth. The site is safely closed whilst we consult the workforce. If we can get the changes we want, the company has committed to investing a further £300m in the site, which will help secure its long term survival". Ineos has warned that Grangemouth is losing £10m a month and will close in 2017 without investment and cost-cutting.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
i100 In this video, the late actor Leonard Nimoy explains how he decided to use the gesture for his character
Arts and Entertainment
Secrets of JK Rowling's Harry Potter workings have been revealed in a new bibliography
arts + ents
News
Down-to-earth: Winstone isn't one for considering his 'legacy'
people
News
news
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

SThree: HR Benefits Manager

£40000 - £50000 per annum + pro rata: SThree: SThree Group have been well esta...

Recruitment Genius: Office Manager / Financial Services

£30000 - £37000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Established in 1999, a highly r...

Jemma Gent: Year End Accountant

£250-£300 Day Rate: Jemma Gent: Are you a qualified accountant with strong exp...

Jemma Gent: Management Accountant

£230 - £260 Day Rate: Jemma Gent: Do you want to stamp your footprint in histo...

Day In a Page

HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower