Union demands John Swinney reveal plan to save Grangemouth oil refinery

Union says political leaders in Edinburgh and London are 'posted missing' amid attempts to save hundreds of jobs at the site.

Unite union demands John Swinney reveal plan to save Grangemouth oil refinery in Falkirk Christopher Furlong via Getty Images

John Swinney has been urged to reveal his plan to save Scotland’s last-remaining oil refinery and the hundreds of workers at risk of losing their jobs.

Unite the Union, which represents the 500 workers at the refinery, said leaders in Holyrood and Westminster had been “posted missing”.

The union said it was a “national disgrace” that “not one concrete proposal” to save the Falkirk factory had been brought forward by politicians.

Owners Petroineos announced last year that operations at the complex could cease as soon as 2025, citing global market pressures.

The company, a joint venture between Chinese state-owned PetroChina and London-based Ineos, intends to turn the site into a fuels import terminal.

At least 400 jobs could be lost as a result of the decision.

Petroineos confirmed last year that the complex would operate as normal until at least spring 2025 when it would be transitioned to an oil import terminal.<br>”/><cite class=cite>STV News</cite></div><figcaption aria-hidden=true>Petroineos confirmed last year that the complex would operate as normal until at least spring 2025 when it would be transitioned to an oil import terminal.<br> <cite class=hidden>STV News</cite></figcaption></figure><p>The First Minister said on Wednesday that he recognised the anxiety felt by workers in the area.</p><p>“What the Scottish Government will do is engage very deeply with unions and with the management at Grangemouth to make sure we can secure a future at the site,” Swinney said.</p><p>He said the Grangemouth plant was “absolutely fundamental” to the Scottish economy.</p><p>“As First Minister, I cannot allow things that are going to be damaging to Scotland,” the SNP leader added.</p><figure class=wp-block-image><div class=relative><img loading=lazy decoding=async src=https://news.stv.tv/wp-content/uploads/2024/05/ae732ae2b2dec741faa459f40ab05f71-1716297452.jpg width=1920 height=1280 srcset=Getty Images

Unite the Union urged Swinney to “show us the plan” for the refinery’s future.

Sharon Graham, Unite general secretary said: “If they cannot allow damage to Scotland, why on earth has it taken the Scottish Government eight months to even talk about a plan to secure the future of the Grangemouth oil refinery and the jobs of people who work there? 

“Grangemouth is absolutely fundamental to the Scottish economy.

“Unite’s message to politicians since November has been to work with us to develop a plan which can protect jobs, but we still have not seen one.  

“The Scottish Government has failed to act and make no mistake, Unite will always hold politicians to account for their failures to protect workers.”

Derek Thomson, Unite Scottish secretary, said the governments at Holyrood and Westminster have been “posted missing when it comes to supporting the Grangemouth oil refinery workers”.

“The lack of political support has been baffling given that the refinery and the wider Grangemouth complex is of enormous strategic importance to the Scottish economy and energy security,” he said.

“All major political parties in the Scottish Parliament have now supported an extension of the oil refinery’s operations and agree that any just transition must be properly managed and involve the workforce.

“Yet not one concrete proposal has been brought forward by anyone. It is a national scandal. 

“Ultimately, it will be a major self-inflicted wound to the Scottish economy unless urgent action is taken.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “The First Minister and the net zero secretary are due to meet Unite the Union next week to discuss the role that the Scottish Government wants the refinery workforce to play in Grangemouth’s future operations.

“We are working to finalise our draft Grangemouth Just Transition Plan, which will be published shortly and will include a first-of-its-kind vision for the site, outlining the long term net zero operations we would hope to see take place by 2045.”

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