Unite the union on Tuesday (May 2) said that the gas leak at the Grangemouth petrochemical reaffirms the need for the site’s owners’ INEOS to work constructively on its industrial and community relations.
Unite, Scotland’s biggest union, said that today’s incident has to convince INEOS that they must work with the skilled union members to safeguard public and worker safety at the plant, a cornerstone of the Scottish economy.
INEOS has previously come under scrutiny by the Health and Safety Executive which criticised the company’s health and safety record.
Despite the safety body’s concerns and today’s leak, INEOS has taken steps to `derecognise’ the union in the chemical and infrastructure sections of the Grangemouth plants meaning, among other things, that the union’s expertise in health and safety matters would be lost. Workers at the Petroineos oil refinery are not affected.
“The leak reported at INEOS Grangemouth is a very concerning development,” said Unite Scottish secretary, Pat Rafferty. “Unite has written to the company requesting an urgent meeting in order to ascertain the cause of the leak.
“We have long been concerned that private ownership of vital commodities such as those produced at Grangemouth is inappropriate,” he added. “I live locally and know myself how important the safety of the site is to the community.
“That is why we have always said to the INEOS management that the upkeep of the site is best done with us all working to protect the workforce and the public.
“I urge the managers now to accept that cooperation is the best policy when it comes to ensuring that Grangemouth stays safe, and drop this damaging and needless effort to break the union,” Rafferty urged. “The public need to have confidence that this site is being run on cooperation, not confrontation.”
Unite assistant general secretary Howard Beckett added, “INEOS must now think again about its plans to derecognise Unite. It is sensible and responsible to keep positive industrial relations at any workplace but in Scotland’s biggest site and with such a volatile commodity, it is beholden on INEOS to work with Unite ensure the safety for those working on and around the site.
“Public safety, not union-busting, has to be the company’s priority.
“Therefore, we repeat our call for INEOS to get back round the negotiating table to make sure the site is as productive, safe and successful as it can be.”
Up to eight appliances and 40 firefighters attended the scene on Tuesday.