Grangemouth owner Jim Ratcliffe says he's done his bit for Britain
A bruising stand-off had seen half the workers initially reject the plan, leading to Ineos’s decision on Wednesday to pull the plug on the Firth of Forth plant with the immediate loss of 800 jobs.
But, faced with the imminent arrival of liquidators, Unite on Thursday caved in to the company’s demands, with general secretary Len McCluskey saying the union would accept the plan “warts and all”.
It sees a three-year strike ban and pay freeze and the axing of the final salary pension scheme, now £200m in deficit. There are also changes to union agreements on site, including no full-time convenors.
Mr Ratcliffe denied he had been indulging in brinkmanship over the plant's closure, saying he had been “shocked on Monday evening when we got the results of the vote”.
After talks broke down at Acas, Mr Ratcliffe said “we spoke to just about every single employee individually and we tried to explain to them as clearly as we could that if we were going to spend another £300m, there would have to be some changes.
“Unite then told its members, very urgently as well, to vote no. We can’t put £300m into a plant that’s going to fail. That would just be stupid.”
He said the Unite climbdown was “a victory for common sense”, adding the no-strike pledge was “legally enforceable”.
“We’ll try to develop a sensible relationship with the unions, like we do everywhere else. At Grangemouth the issue is you don’t sit down to negotiate, you sit down to have a fight.”
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