NO STRIKES–WAGE FREEZE – agreed by Unite

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CALLUM MacLean, Ineos Grangemouth chairman, was exultant yesterday as he told the media that Unite the union had agreed to a three-year pay freeze, a three-year ban on strikes and the end of the final salary pension scheme.

When asked ‘Will there be any redundancies?’ he replied ‘there will be some redundancies’ but that the plant would now remain open.

Speaking after the press conference, MacLean said: ‘The employees through their Unite union at the beginning of the week had rejected the survival plan, which had caused the shareholders to pull out their support.

‘However, following a change of mind by the Unite union, and the re-confirmation by the governments that the applications would go ahead for the loan guarantee and the grants, last night the shareholders confirmed to me that they would continue with their investment.’

MacLean went on to confirm: ‘The agreement with the union today is that there will be no strikes on site between now and when the work on the plant is complete in three years time.’

He was asked: ‘Could you have handled it differently? because clearly there are those on the other side of the argument who say that you were spoiling for a fight here.’

He replied: ‘Well no, I don’t think that is the case. I think that when you look at Ineos putting in £1bn and then coming to the table to put £300m on the table to spend over the next two to three years, to ask for some changes around the survival plan was necessary to bring the site into a competitive position.’

The survival plan includes the end of final salary pensions, sackings, no strikes and a three-year pay freeze for up to 800 workers.

Pat Rafferty, Unite Scottish secretary tried to put some gloss on a shameful deal that was pushed through because the Unite leaders refused to mobilise their giant union and other unions to defend workers who they had advised to reject the ‘survival plan’.

Rafferty said ‘This decision is clearly very welcome.

‘Relief will ring right round the Grangemouth community and across Scotland today.

‘Hundreds of jobs that would have been lost can now be saved and £300m will be invested into the plant.

‘Grangemouth is the powerhouse of the Scottish economy – it now has a fighting chance of upholding this crucial role into the future.’

Rafferty added: ‘Obviously today’s news is tinged with sadness – decent men and women are being asked to make sacrifices to hold onto their jobs, but the clear wish of our members is that we work with the company to implement its proposals.’

Scotland’s Prime Minister Alex Salmond said: ‘Yes, the Scottish government are funding Grangemouth, but it is not funding for nothing.

‘We are supporting the petrochemical plant to secure its future.

‘The workforce yesterday put forward very substantial changes, an acceptance of their terms and conditions, they guaranteed no industrial action over a three-year period and that was a substantial contribution.’

The latest developments in the struggle began after the company suspended the Unite convener, Stephen Deans, and Unite balloted the membership and called a 48-hour strike to defend Deans and stand up to the victimisation.

However, they then called the strike off and went into ‘talks’ with Ineos.

The management at Grangemouth produced a ‘survival plan’ and threatened to sack all 800 workers and shut the plant down if it was not accepted.

The survival plan was rejected by workers, on the advice of Unite, whose leaders then refused to mobilise to defend their members when the employer shut down the plant.