Unite has accused Ineos of behaving recklessly in rejecting the union's request to use the conciliation services of Acas in yet another astonishing snub to the wisdom of diplomacy by the company.
Unite calls on Ineos to stop taking reckless decisions that may result in putting Britain’s energy supplies at risk.
The refusal comes on a day of union diplomacy with Unite holding meetings with the energy minister Michael Fallon in London, and with deputy first minister for Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon, in Edinburgh, in a bid to resolve the dispute over the unfair treatment of Stephen Deans.
Ineos' rejection of the union’s formal offer to go to Acas comes on top of the company's refusal to allow elected union representatives time-off to meet Westminster government ministers. The rejection has led the union to question whether the company is deliberately seeking to provoke strike action.
Unite regional secretary Pat Rafferty said: "It is our view that Ineos is using Stephen Deans, who is an innocent man and the country's energy supplies as pawns in some twisted industrial game. The company’s inaction will force the union into industrial action which would inevitably put the nation's fuel supply at risk. It will be Ineos' refusal to engage that will be to blame should this happen. Ineos' unknown objectives are a mystery to us and it seems intent on confrontation.
"This latest move by Ineos to refuse the opportunity to use the conciliation service Acas to try to resolve this dispute is utterly baffling. Why would Jim Ratcliffe and his team not do everything possible to try to resolve this dispute?
"Management has now also refused Unite union representatives time-off to attend a meeting with energy minister Michael Fallon to discuss the dispute, a move which is both highly unusual and destructive.
"The people of Scotland and northern England have a right to be angry and bewildered by this company's alarming behaviour. Petrol supplies are at risk because this company is behaving with astonishing recklessness.
"If Ineos won't listen to good sense then we urge senior government ministers in Westminster and Scotland to demand that Ineos goes to Acas and ends the gunboat diplomacy."
Industrial action began on Monday 7 October. The action involves a ban on overtime and a work-to-rule, meaning the disruption and slowing down of operations at the Grangemouth site. Workers on secondments will also be recalled to their original roles.
Previously, three days of strike action over pensions in April 2008 led to the shutdown of the entire site including Kinneil, 70 North Sea oil platforms were forced to shut down or reduce production at the cost of 700,000 barrels of oil per day.
Shutting the Forties pipeline down reduced Britain's petroleum supply by up to a third and cost the UK economy £50 million in lost production for every day it remained closed.
Contact Ciaran Naidoo 07768 931 315
Notes to editors:
- Stephen Deans, Unite's convenor at Ineos 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 in Scotland and is its 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 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