Patience runs thin as Grangemouth workers announce action

Patience runs thin as Grangemouth workers announce action

30 September 2013

Unite, Britain's biggest union, has today (30 September) given Ineos management seven days notice of industrial action that will begin on Monday 7 October as the union steps up its opposition to the ill-treatment of a union rep at the site and the growing use of agency workers.

The action will involve a ban on overtime and a work- to-rule, meaning the disruption and slowing down of operations at the Grangemouth site in Scotland (see notes to editors).  Workers on secondments will also be recalled to their original roles.

Last week, the workers voted by an overwhelming majority to support suspended union representative Stephen Deans, allegedly in relation to his political role in Falkirk CLP, of which Mr Deans is the chair. He could be sacked if the company rules against him. On a 86 per cent turnout 90.6 per cent of workers voted for industrial action short of a strike and 81.4 per cent voted for strike action.

The union will also hold a mass meeting tomorrow (1 October) at the Grangemouth site where Ineos workers will discuss the potential escalation of industrial action unless the company ends the unfair treatment of Stephen Deans.

Unite Scottish regional secretary Pat Rafferty said: "Unite has given Ineos manangement opportunity after opportunity to come to its senses and end the unfair treatment of Stephen Deans.

"Unite has announced action which will slow down operations from next Monday but the workforce are losing their patience and are ready to escalate the action unless the company ends its treatment of a loyal member of staff with 24 year's service.

"Ineos is trying to spin this dispute into a fight over the future of Grangemouth - this is not the case, we have always been willing to sit down with the company and discuss the challenges facing the business.

"This dispute is about the unfair treatment of Stephen Deans who has already been cleared by the Police  and by the Labour party. We repeat our call to Ineos management to step back from the brink and end this wholly unnecessary dispute."

Stephen Deans was working with Falkirk CLP to select a Labour party candidate to replace the disgraced MP Eric Joyce.  

His union Unite has challenged all assertions of wrongdoing by Mr Deans and the CLP, and has been proved correct in this when the Labour party announced on Friday 6 September that Mr Deans was innocent, importantly reiterated by Police Scotland in August when they announced that there was no case against Mr Deans. However, irrespective of these facts, Ineos, which is majority-owned by Jim Ratcliffe, is continuing with a campaign of unfair treatment against an innocent employee.

The union has repeatedly made clear to Mr Ratcliffe and his HR team that it views their actions as nothing other than the unfair treatment of a trade union representative, and that this will not be tolerated.

The Ineos refinery, which sits on the Firth of Forth, is the only refinery north of the border and is Scotland's main fuel supplier. The plant powers the Forties pipeline which is connected to the oil fields in the North Sea and supplies 30 per cent of the UK's North Sea oil.

Unite met with John Swinney SNP cabinet secretary for finance, employment and sustainable growth on Friday 13 September to urge the minister to put pressure on Ineos' management to end the unfair campaign.

The union has also held meetings with BP which owns the Forties pipeline and has written to Petrochina which has a 50 per cent stake in the Ineos refinery to urge the stakeholders to get Ineos to return to peaceful relations with its workforce.


For further information contact Ciaran Naidoo on 07768 931 315

Notes to editors:

The action to be notified to the employer today covers;

Continuous overtime ban for all members.
Work to rule for all members
Withdrawal of members on secondments and special projects.

Unite is Britain and Ireland's largest trade union with 1.4 million members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.