Grangemouth dispute conduct 'unsatisfactory'

Scotland's finance secretary told MSPs aspects of the conduct between bosses and union officials in the Grangemouth dispute were "deeply unsatisfactory".

John Swinney said the last few weeks had been a period of "acute anxiety" for the workforce.

The plant's operator Ineos had announced the closure of its petrochemical facility.

It was later saved after workers agreed to changes in conditions which the union Unite had previously resisted.

Ineos had said the plant was to shut with the loss of 800 jobs, after union members rejected a survival plan which Grangemouth bosses said was necessary to keep it open.

But the decision was reversed on Friday after Unite agreed to Ineos's plan, which included a three-year pay freeze and an end to the final salary pension scheme.

Economic future

The bitter dispute also involved the alleged mistreatment of a Unite official and escalated to the threat of strike action which was later dropped, but resulted in the temporary shutdown of the plant.

Speaking in the Scottish Parliament, Mr Swinney said: "The last two weeks have been a period of acute anxiety for the workforce at Grangemouth.

"Indeed, for a period in excess of 24 hours, hundreds of employees and their families would have faced deep uncertainty about their economic future."

Image caption Stephen Deans had worked at Grangemouth for about 25 years

Mr Swinney added: "There are many matters that are deeply unsatisfactory about the conduct of industrial relations in this instance between the company and the union at Grangemouth.

"We hope both the company and the union will now work together for the future of the plant."

Meanwhile, the former Labour foreign secretary Jack Straw has called on his party to consider reopening the investigation into claims of union interference with candidate selection in Falkirk, which has links to the Grangemouth dispute.

The Unite official involved in the row - Stephen Deans - who worked at Grangemouth for about 25 years, was suspended by Ineos over claims he used company time for political campaigning work.

Mr Deans, who has now resigned from his job at the facility, had been accused of trying to rig the selection of a candidate for Westminster in his role as chairman of the Labour Party in the Falkirk constituency.

He was suspended from the party, but was later cleared by an investigation and reinstated.

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