Scotland business

Ineos plant at Grangemouth hit by fresh industrial row

Grangemouth petrochemicals plant Image copyright Mat Fascione
Image caption Ineos threatened to close its Grangemouth plant in 2013 following a bitter industrial dispute

Relations between management and unions at the Grangemouth petrochemical plant have broken down again after Ineos said it was ending collective bargaining agreements there.

It comes three-and-a-half years after industrial action led to a threat by Ineos to close the plant permanently.

A source at Ineos claimed on Friday that union officials at Grangemouth were "impossible to work with".

The union Unite accused the firm of being "reckless" over pay talks.

The union represents most staff at the Grangemouth chemicals plant.

Unite said members had unanimously rejected a pay offer from the company following a three-year pay freeze.

The union, which has been pressing for a 3.25% pay rise, said Ineos had offered a 2.8% increase for newer grades of staff and 1.4% - with a 1.4% lump sum - for staff with longer service.

The Ineos source told BBC Scotland that the company had also offered an additional bonus of up to 17%.

Unite described the move to end union agreements at Grangemouth as "an incredibly foolish attempt to undermine the democratic rights of workers" there.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Ineos came close to shutting the plant permanently during a bitter industrial dispute in 2013

Unite assistant general secretary Howard Beckett said: "After three years without a pay rise there is bound to be difficult negotiations, but Unite's demand for a 3.25% rise is more than reasonable and our intention remains to achieve a negotiated agreement.

"We would encourage Ineos to think again and to row back from what is an unnecessary act of aggression towards their own workforce."

The union's Scottish secretary, Pat Rafferty, added: "If Ineos doesn't change its mind, we will simply go through the normal legal procedures, and push for an independent ballot of workers."

The source at Ineos said that the company worked well with unions at plants around the world, but it was dealing with the same people who led the union side at Grangemouth during the industrial dispute in 2014.

He added: "Trust has broken down. We had hoped for a constructive relationship with the new Unite, but it is the old Unite."

Ineos announced during the 2014 dispute that it would close the facility, with the loss of 800 jobs, but later reversed its decision after workers agreed to a survival plan which included a three-year pay freeze.

Pay talks between Ineos and unions at the nearby refinery are not affected by the latest developments.

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