FOURTEEN-hundred workers at the Grangemouth oil refinery in Scotland face the sack at 6pm today if they refuse to sign a wage- and conditions-cutting ‘survival plan’ imposed by the plant’s privateer owner Ineos.
Yesterday, a midday rally was held outside the plant against the company’s ‘sign or be sacked’ ultimatum.
The ultimatum demanded a 6pm Monday deadline to sign the plan, which involves the scrapping of the pension scheme, a pay freeze and pay cuts.
Unite members at the plant have previously overwhelmingly voted in favour of strike action against the management attacks.
But last week on the eve of the strike, after Ineos management closed down production at the plant, Unite officials called off the strike action which had been due to commence on Thursday.
Following the last-minute calling off of the strike, Unite officials yesterday would give no firm commitment for any action to defend their members’ jobs.
After yesterday’s rally, Unite officer Alex Flynn spoke to News Line.
He said: ‘Over 600 people braved the rain. Our message to management is, start up the plant again and our message to our members is, don’t sign your rights away, we won’t be blackmailed.’
News Line asked: ‘What if management carries out its threat to sack those who don’t sign by 6pm tomorrow?’
Flynn claimed: ‘That is the deadline for people to opt in or opt out. We are urging people not to sign.’
News Line asked: ‘But what if Ineos management carry out their threat and sack the workforce?’
Flynn replied: ‘It’s a case of seeing what happens over the next few days.’
Before the rally, Flynn told News Line: ‘The workforce is currently on maintenance duties. There are 1,400 operators, supervisors, engineers, processors, and other staff threatened with the sack.
‘Management have sought to engineer confrontation. They want to attack the union and attack the workforce. They’ve got a sacking agenda.’
Unite Scottish Regional Secretary Pat Rafferty told News Line: ‘Ineos bosses have been engaged in a provocation for some time and it’s culminated in this imposition that has been thrust on the workforce to accept this survival plan or be sacked in 45 days.
‘In the meantime, the company is holding the Grangemouth complex, in the shape of the refinery and the chemicals, hostage by not allowing the plant to be restarted into production.
‘There is absolutely no reason why that should be the case, other than the employer using this to blackmail the workforce.’