Ineos to press on with UK Grangemouth inquiry in face of strike threat
LONDON, Sept 21
LONDON, Sept 21 (Reuters) - Ineos petrochemicals said it will continue with an inquiry into a senior union representative at its Grangemouth plant in Scotland, despite the threat of a strike which could embroil staff at the attached oil refinery.
The Unite union is balloting its 1,000 members at both the petrochemical plant and the 210,000 barrel per day PetroIneos refinery at Grangemouth on a walkout over what it calls the "sinister" victimisation of its official, Stephen Deans.
Ineos is investigating Deans over whether his political activities with the Labour Party contravened company policies, and accuses the union of interfering with its inquiry.
"Ineos employees should not be surprised by the union's behaviour. However everyone is subject to the same internal rules and the investigation should be allowed to proceed unhindered," Calum MacLean, Chairman of Ineos Petrochemicals UK business, said on Saturday.
"I hope the employees will see what the union is trying to do here and act accordingly."
MacLean said any strike could impact on the future of the chemical plant which Ineos said was losing 150 million pounds ($240 million) a year and had a 200 million pound pension fund deficit.
"The current financial position is unsustainable and we need the unions to work with us to give the business a future, not constantly threaten industrial action," he said.
However, Unite accused the company of trying to intimidate workers out of taking action and jeopardising Scotland's fuel supply.
"This is extremely dangerous which is why we are working exceedingly hard to bring some much-needed common sense to this situation," said Pat Rafferty, Unite's Scotland regional secretary.
Unite said it would be writing to the Scottish government and PetroChina, which jointly owns the Grangemouth refinery with Ineos Group Holding SA, to urge them to help resolve the dispute. ($1 = 0.6250 British pounds) (Reporting by Michael Holden; editing by Ron Askew)
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