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  By Martin Kelly
 
That Scottish Government has convened an emergency meeting of the cabinet following the announcement by the owners of the Grangemouth petrochemical plant that it is to close.
 
The news, which will result in 800 job losses, was met with shock across Scotland, and was described by First Minister Alex Salmond as "hugely disappointing" and "the position we always feared".

The announcement follows the growing stalemate between the owners of the plant and the UNITE union after negotiations broke down last week.  Both sides failed to return to the negotiating table despite the union pledging a no strike policy into the new year.

Local politicians have joined together in demanding the owners fire up the plant in order to prevent lasting damage.  Ineos initiated a cold shutdown last week, citing fears that the union would call a surprise strike.

The Scottish Government has begun to look at contingency options, including actively pursuing potential buyers, as a matter of extreme urgency.

Speaking following the meeting this afternoon of a Scottish Cabinet sub-committee to discuss the situation at Grangemouth, First Minister Alex Salmond said:

"The Cabinet sub-committee has met again this afternoon to discuss the on-going situation at Grangemouth.  The Scottish Government is clear that we are not prepared to accept that the closure of plant’s petrochemical facility is inevitable.

"We strongly believe there is still room for negotiation between both parties.  This is demonstrated by the fact that Unite have now put forward fresh proposals to the company.  I have also spoken personally this afternoon to both the Union leadership and to Jim Ratcliffe of Ineos."

Unite's Scottish secretary Pat Rafferty said the announcement "has confirmed our fears that this was the intention of Ineos all along".

He added: "Discussions have taken place with the company this morning and will continue over the course of the day. We have made further proposals in a last-ditch effort to stave off these catastrophic job losses which we believe are tantamount to economic and industrial vandalism.

"Make no mistake, one man is holding this workforce and this country to ransom and that man is Ineos owner Jim Ratcliffe. The ball is now in the court of Jim Ratcliffe and the respective governments in Edinburgh and Westminster and we await their responses."

Mr Salmond added: "We should give time for the proper consideration of this offer, especially given that we know an agreement between both sides was very close last week, and the prize is a viable future for Grangemouth.

"However, given that the current position is the one we always feared possible given the stalemate between the sides, if an agreement between Ineos and Unite is not possible then we will continue to pursue our contingency options of finding a buyer for the site.

"As the Cabinet sub-committee agreed, the last thing anyone should do is write off Grangemouth.

"This is a hugely important plant for the Scottish economy and one with a viable future. That is why the Scottish Government is determined to work with all parties to protect jobs and deliver a secure future for Grangemouth."

 

[Newsnet Scotland has this evening initiated a petition calling for both the Scottish and UK Governments to work together in order to save the Grangemouth facility.  If you would like to add your name to the petition you can do so by clicking HERE.]

Comments  

 
# springster 2013-10-23 16:29
This has all the hallmarks of a setup job. I commented last night on the relish that some BBC reporters were showing when reporting on the ever increasing likelihood that the plant would be closed.

Gordon Brewer last night tried his best to provoke unhelpful comments from John Swinney and Pat Rafferty. It was and still is clear that the BBC are not looking to help this situation.

This morning they had some English guy on Radio Scotland telling everyone that nobody would buy the plant. At a time when Scotland needs to come together and our broadcaster should be working with our government, BBC Scotland is putting the boot in.

What odds on an eleventh hour bail out by Westminster and thus a critical element of Scottish infrastructure - and control of oil - falls into London hands.

Labour MP Michael Connarty was on the money last week when he accused Cameron's Westminster coalition of collusion.
 
 
# admiral 2013-10-24 12:48
It's heartbreaking to witness the glee with which some unionists are using this as a stick with which to beat the Yes campaign.

I keep hearing people saying "Independence? It's a great idea, but we can't afford it." The only thing we can't afford is not to be independent.
 
 
# Fungus 2013-10-23 16:33
Signed but shouldn't it be 'ensure' rather than 'insure'?

[Admin - Yes, the wording will be corrected as soon as possible.]
 
 
# InterestingStuff 2013-10-23 16:50
Give us your pay rises, all future bonuses, final salary pensions etc and the shareholders will invest your money in our business for our dividends and our share value. You get no shares just the same job downgraded.
 
 
# drygrangebull 2013-10-23 17:24
I love this site, and especially the comments and the links. All I can say is this stinks!! One man with all this power.....that is so wrong. and to Old Nat, it was a pleasure to meet you on the hill.
 
 
# theycantbeserious 2013-10-23 18:08
Strange that all this has happened just after g. osborne goes to China and agrees some deals "The first China deal could be as early as next week, with the go ahead for a new £14bn plant at the Hinkley C site.....at the expense of Scotland and Grangemouth?

Just a thought!
 
 
# BillCo 2013-10-23 18:21
This morning they had some English guy on Radio Scotland telling everyone that nobody would buy the plant. At a time when Scotland needs to come together and our broadcaster should be working with our government, BBC Scotland is putting the boot in.

I heard the FM on 'Newsdrive' tonight. He had a go at Mhairi Stewart talking the hopes for a successful outcome down and rubbished the 'expert analysts' wheeled out by BBC Scotland who hadn't a good word to say for the prospects of the plant. Stick it on 'em Eck!

This is Alex's moment - if he pulls this off, which I hope to God he does, it could be a game changer.
 
 
# call me dave 2013-10-23 19:01
It is certainly not the hand the SG would have chosen to play, but play it they must even with all the jokers in the pack.

Meanwhile, down South. . . . They don't know whether to stick or twist.

I hope the SG keep some of their cards close their chest, it wont be won through the media, but through good decisions on behalf of Scotland.
 
 
# Skybolt 2013-10-23 18:55
Rattcliffe is reputedly now a multi-BILLIONAIRE, now living in Switzerland, no doubt to avoid his tax!
To make the plant fit for today, neither the owner nor the other shareholders wish to use any of the vast profits they have made in the past, but they expect the government to invest 300 million in their business(so they keep their returns up without using any of their own profits)! They also expect their workforce to take a big hit before dipping into their own millions.
I am sure the current employees, including working management, are more than capable of running the plant and if a bit of investment is needed in the short term then it might be found with the Scottish governments help?
Capitalism, I’m sure, can be a good thing but the events now playing out shows the downside!
I have often pondered the big question – How do you CAP capitalism?
 
 
# Legerwood 2013-10-23 19:45
Mr Joyce MP has a lot to answer for.
 
 
# colin8652 2013-10-24 05:04
The Grangemouth farce shows why Scotland MUST be independent. The whole episode was caused by intransigent unionists in Unite and the unionist Labour party behind them. And you can bet the unionist Tories will stand idly by smirking from the sidelines shedding a few crocodile tears. Telling us how we can never survive without "mother england". The whole episode stinks to high heaven. Vote YES and save Scotland.
 
 
# Leader of the Pack 2013-10-24 07:36
Anybody who believes the UK Govt doesn't have a hand in this is taking naivity to a whole new level.
Where does the Oil go if the Whole plant is shut down?
What will it do to the future prediction levels of oil extraction?
What advantages can the No campaign take from a closure?
Think about it.
 
 
# ituna semea 2013-10-24 11:54
"Where does the Oil go if the Whole plant is shut down?
What will it do to the future prediction levels of oil extraction?
What advantages can the No campaign take from a closure?"

From Kinneil Gas Plant (still owned by BP) to a tanker at Hound point to be refined elsewhere.
Why don't you try looking at this other than through the prism of the YES campaign for a change?
 
 
# Leader of the Pack 2013-10-24 08:31
I cant believe Eddie Barnes in the Hootsdross has managed to actually write an article which summerises the events accurately.

scotsman.com/.../...

Has Labour gone too far even for their poodle media friends?
 
 
# call me dave 2013-10-24 08:33
Grangemouth : Newsnight
Things have moved on but worth a look.

bbc.co.uk/.../...

STV programme: Lamont speaks!! etal.

debate starts about 25mins in.

news.stv.tv/.../...
 
 
# gopher3 2013-10-24 12:57
O/T BASF factory in Paisley is to close, bad news for Paisley jobs.
Turns out that BASF and Ineos are connected.
Is this a new secret tactic by Westminster to asset strip Scotland before the Referendum vote next year.??

eveningtimes.co.uk/.../...
 
 
# Leader of the Pack 2013-10-24 14:11
I don't believe in this level of coincidence coupled with the timing.
This is the sort of tactic I have been expecting as a result of the referendum predictions swinging towards a yes vote.
Seems the poll results are not as far apart as we're being led to believe.
As you say it looks suspiciously like a Scorched Earth policy has been unleashed. A systematic deliberate operation to make Scotland look and feel impoverished vulnerable desperate and in dire straits before the crunch vote.
How far are the No camp prepared to go? Does anybody believe they have moral limitations?
 
 
# Nautilus 2013-10-24 16:45
This is a private equity company, owned by a mogul with no thoughts of running anything except for his own benefit. Private equity companies asset strip. That’s what they do. They never have the management/financial skills to turn round any loss-making parts of a company. They just close it down. Easy peasy – they get a profitable company.
Jim Ratcliffe has been looking for an excuse to close the chemical plant down from the date of the takeover. Deans provided the excuse to kill 2 birds with one stone. 1. – Get rid of the union. 2. - Close down the loss-making part of the set-up.
Why do we allow any of these cowboys into our economy? That relations at the plant(s) were bad is down to incompetent man-management by people who knew that they had the power in this economic climate and used it.
 
 
# Mad Jock McMad 2013-10-24 17:43
Ratcliffe's Ineos have track record of buying profitable business, using junk bonds which effectively means the company is buying its self, load all the debt up front while hollowing all value out to the point there is nothing left - currently Ineos has written down the value of the plant at Grangemouth to zero. This has nothing to do with the business being profitable or not because operating profit does not make the likes of Ratcliffe big bucks, it is milking the tax breaks and pension funds which does.

So Grangemouth has now hit minimum value and Ratcliffe's next step would be to put in enough new investment to make the business saleable which was to be an ethane plant, but the profitability was reliant on cheap gas from 'fracking operations' in the Central Belt by folk like Iain Taylor of Vitoil. The growing problems with Airth, Solway and Canonby CBM/shale gas recovery makes that unlikely. All Ratcliffe actually has to sell is 17 hectares of contaminated land.
 
 
# gopher3 2013-10-25 13:16
Now that the Unions have given in, the plants open with immediate effect. The gun to the head of the Scotland and the workers has worked.
One man should not be able to hold a country to ransom the way he's done.

A possible "Sir" in the New Year Honours List for Jim Ratcliffe.???
 
 
# fynesider 2013-10-25 16:55
"Changes we've requested (!!) have been agreed...

"Very impressive set of assets..." -Which were written down to £0.00 in the company's accounts if i recall correctly...

Problem over - blackmail works....!

bbc.co.uk/.../...
 

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