An evening summary
Time for a summary of the situation tonight:
• Politicians, unions and Ineos management have been locked in talks today in a bid to reverse the closure of the Grangemouth petrochemicals plant, and get its refinery arm working again.
The future of one of Scotland’s most important industrial sites remains in the balance though, with at least 130 contractors being laid off today as the plant stays shuttered.
The plant was thrown a lifeline this morning when the Unite union has accepted the survival plan which had previously been rejected by its members. Its general secretary, Len McCluskey, is now leading the negotiations — having travelled to Grangemouth after Ineos stunned Scotland by announcing the closure of the site yesterday.
• McCluskey told reporters that Unite will not let the plant close, and that he was optimistic for its future.
• Alistair Carmichael, the Secretary of State for Scotland, and John Swinney, the Scottish governments’ finance minister, made a show of solidarity at Grangemouth. Both men said their administrations were still prepared to do everything possible to save jobs and keep Grangemouth running.
However, both men warned that the plant was not yet safe — although the situation is brighter than yesterday. Highlights start here.
• The plant’s future will be decided by Ineos’s founder, and majority shareholder, Jim Ratcliffe. The Swiss-based firm is expected to release a statement on Friday.
One pub and restaurant owner explained to my colleague Sean Farrell how these temporary workers help support the local economy.
I don’t think we’re going to get a breakthrough tonight.
If we do, we’ll cover it on the website so keep watching for more news from Grangemouth and around the world. Goodnight. GW
Sean Farrell’s sources in Grangemouth confirm that some contractors were being laid off today. That includes 130 Babcock workers who were told to pack up at 3pm – such as welders and pipe fitters.
There will be more tomorrow, Sean’s source adds. Another contractor says close to 800 have already been laid off in the last week or so.
The situation at Grangemouth tonight
Ineos is planning to issue a statement on the situation tomorrow, according to both the BBC and the Press Association.
Here’s PA’s latest take:
The owners of the giant Grangemouth site are considering a last-ditch offer by the union at the centre of the crisis to “embrace” a survival plan aimed at preventing the loss of thousands of jobs.
A flurry of meetings were held throughout the day, with Unite saying it was working to persuade owners Ineos to reverse its shock decision to close the petrochemical complex.
General secretary Len McCluskey said the union had decided they had to embrace the survival plan, “warts and all”, in the wake of the closure decision.
Managers were said to be discussing “everything that has been said”, before deciding whether to reverse the decision to close the petrochemical side of its business, with the loss of 800 direct jobs and up to 2,000 contractors.
An announcement from the company is expected tomorrow.
Meanwhile, UK government officials admitted it would be a “challenge” to find another company to buy the business, which Ineos has said is losing £10 million a month.
The losses, scale of investment needed to upgrade the site, coupled with the industrial relations would all have to be considered by any potential buyer, officials said.
But they insisted there would be no shortage of fuel supplies as a result of the dispute, which has led to the petrochemical site and adjoining oil refinery being closed for the past week.
“We don’t envisage there will be shortages,” said one official.
One of the surprising things about Grangemouth is how run-down it is, writes Sean Farrell from the scene.
This picture shows a discoloured, ragged Ineos flag flying behind the Scottish Saltire:
A second look at a sign for the Grangemouth Business Centre shows that “BP” has been covered up with white tape. A look inside the building shows paintwork that could do with a refresh.
Ineos bought Grangemouth from BP in 2006 and says it has invested £1bn since then but its billionaire owner Jim Ratcliffe has made his money partly by hammering down on costs.
This is an oil refinery and not Fortnum & Mason but maybe a few quid spent here and there might cheer everyone up if the dispute gets resolved. SF
From Grangemouth, Sky’s correspondent James Matthews tweets that up to two hundred contractors have just been told they’re being laid off:
More details as we get it — but as Sean Farrell explained at 1.27pm, many contractors were already facing an uncertain fate. They also outnumber the number of staff on the Ineos payroll.
UK and Scotland governments united over Grangemouth
John Swinney and Alistair Carmichael are giving a clear show of solidarity here, showing that neither the governments in London or Edinburgh have lost hope that the plant can be rescued.
In a brief Q&A session, Swinney says that it’s clear that the petrochemical site can only be saved if unions and management can reach a deal. He also says there has been “clear acceptance” of the Ineos plan by Unite.
Asked what they said to Ineos today, Carmichael says that these are not new discussions — politicians have been talking about the site’s future for some time.
Swinney reiterates this point, saying that:
The discussions and the commitment are the same as we’ve been involved in for some time.
And asked whether they share Len McCluskey’s optimism, Carmichael cautions against getting carried away.
“At best there is a better prospect” of the petrochemical plant staying open, he adds.
John Swinney, finance secretary in the Scottish administration, speaks next – saying many families in the area suffered a “very anxious night last night” after yesterday’s news.
Both the Scottish and UK government stand ready to do everything we can to help reverse the closure of the petrochemical plant and to restart the refinery operation very soon, Swinney adds.
Alistair Carmichael, Orkney and Shetland MP and Secretary of State for Scotland, speaks first.
He says that discussions have been very open and very productive. We are clearly in different situation today, now that Unite have said they will accept the Ineos survival plan, he says.
Carmichael added that both government are committed to saving the plant. Recent events have had no impact at all on that commitment.
Statement at Grangemouth
Heads-up — the two senior politicians at Grangemouth, Alistair Carmichael and John Swinney are giving a statement to the media now, after their meeting with Ineos management.
It’s on BBC News 24 and Sky News
Sky’s correspondent in Grangemouth, James Matthews, reports that Ineos management are drafting a “formal legal agreement” for Unite to sign, confirming that the union will abide by the survival plan for Grangemouth (as Len McCluskey has pledged they will do).
Meetings are still continuing between Ineos, Unite, the Scottish finance minister, John Swinney (who spoke earlier) and Secretary of State for Scotland, Alistair Carmichael.
The nearest pub to the Grangemouth site is the most hospitable Abbotsich bar and restaurant about three-quarters of a mile up the Bo’Ness Road as you head into town.
The owner, Gary Horne, has his finger on the pulse and he told my colleague Sean Farrellabout the importance of contractors to the local economy:
“Most of our customers are workers [at Grangemouth] but also we have property to let solely for contractors and it’s my job to know what’s going on. The flats are easy to get into and easy to get out of for people working short term. Most of my contractors are at the BP Kinneil terminal and one or two from the Grangemouth refinery who are hanging on.
There were hundreds and hundreds of guys laid off in the last week or so. They got a day’s notice and it was: that’s it – finished. Those plants are run by contractors. There are more of them than the employees of Ineos. I’m a foodie guy and most of what I do is the restaurant which is mainly locals but in the bar normally that table and that table would be contractors and they come here to watch the football.
The industrial tourists from south of the border spend more than the locals. They’re out every night of the week and they eat out every night. At an educated guess the bar business is down by about a third. If Grangemouth closed it would affect me big time. It’s going into the realms of the unknown. We’ve just spent £350,000 renovating the place because the plant was almost a guarantee of business. And we’ve also got £600,000 of flats which we rent to contractors.
What worries me is that the housing market could take another hit and we could struggle to sell them off because other people will be doing the same thing.
All the industrial estates round here are full of businesses that work for Grangemouth. They have to be within radio distance because no one’s allowed a mobile phone so they have to be within a mile or two. Everyone works for the BP [Grangemouth].”
Back to the Grangemouth dispute, and Labour leader Ed Miliband said he had discussed the crisis with Unite. He said the union officials “fully understand the gravity of this situation”.
I’ve taken the quotes from PA:
I have spoken to them, and I think they fully understand the gravity of this situation.
They want to represent their members, and rightly so, and they’re concerned about their members’ jobs and livelihoods.
I have a concern about that but also making sure that we have proper energy supplies for this country. That’s why it’s a national asset.
I think we’ve seen very significant movement on the union side, rightly calling off the industrial action – the strike – and now looking like they’re open to changes on the terms and conditions.
Now that is a matter for them but I think that is encouraging because I want to see this dispute settled, I want to see those jobs saved.
I think that’s what the union wants to see, and I hope that’s what the employer wants to see.
Over in America, we’ve just seen the first sign of the damage caused by its government shutdown earlier this month month.
Markit, the data firm, reported that factory output shrank in October for the first time since the end of 2009, while overall activity grew at its weakest rate in a year.
Its preliminary US manufacturing PMI fell to 51.1, the lowest since October 2012, from 52.8 in September, indicating slower growth.
The output subindex dropped for the first time in more than four years, to 49.5 from 55.3. Any reading below 50 indicates a contraction.
Markit chief economist Chris Williamson said it was impossible to disentangle the impact of the shutdown from other economic factors, but added:
[it] suggests that the disruptions and uncertainty caused by the crisis hit companies hard.
Not great news for the US, or the wider global economy. We learned earlier today that the eurozone private sector is growing less quickly than expected, although Chinese activity hit a seven month high.
Scottish Power raises prices by 8.6%
Scottish Power has announced that it is hiking its domestic dual fuel prices by 8.6%.
The average annual bill will rise by £113, as Scottish Power becomes the latest UK utility to hit customers with an inflation-busting tariff hike.
Gas prices will increase by an average of 8.5% and electricity prices by an average of 9.0%, from 6th December 2013. It blamed the usual “rising costs” for the move, namely:
- 7% increase in the costs of the gas and electricity purchased on wholesale markets
- 11% increase in the costs of delivering gas and electricity to our customers’ homes
- 16% increase in the costs of compulsory environmental and social schemes
Those “compulsory environmental and social schemes” were criticised by prime minister David Cameron this week, after former PM John Major stirred up the debate by suggesting the government should impose windfall taxes on the industry.
Here’s the statement: ScottishPower To Increase Domestic Dual Fuel Prices By An Average Of 8.6% To Recover Rising Costs
And here’s a graphic from it:
Just two days ago, Scottish Power was ordered to pay £8.5m to customers after misleading them about the cost of charges, consumption and tariffs.
This makes Scottish Power the fourth energy supplier to raise its prices. We’re still waiting for EDF and E.ON.
SSE is raising its prices by 8.2%, British Gas by 9.2%, while nPower is imposing a double-digit rise of 10.4%.
John Swinney: We’re in a better place
Interviewed on BBC News 24, Scotland finance minister John Swinney says Grangemouth is in ” a much better place than yesterday… but we’ve not crossed the line yet”.
Speaking before heading for meetings with Ineos and Unite, Swinney said he hopes to make progress today towards an agreement on the future of the plant.
He said Unite had made a “helpful step forward” this morning, by saying it would embrace the Ineos’s rescue plan.
Could the Scottish government provide funds to guarantee Grangemouth’s future?
He said the Scottish government “stands ready to be a part and player” in any deal to secure jobs *
Could there be a new buyer for the site?
People would expect the Scottish government to be making contingency plans, John Swinney says. His priority today, though, is to make progress towards a deal to reverse the decision to shut the site.
[* – for background: Ineos’s chairman Jim Ratcliffe was seeking loan guarantees and grants from ministers in London and Edinburgh, as part of the £300m+ scheme to upgrade the site]
John Swinney MSP, Scotland’s finance secretary, has arrived at the Grangemouth site to hold talks with Ineos management and Unite officials
Journalists at the scene report that Swinney said he was optimistic a breakthrough can be reached.
Grangemouth contract workers left in limbo
The Grangemouth workers who feel particularly aggrieved about the plant’s closure are the thousands of contract staff who work on the site, reports my colleague Sean Farrell.
From Grangemouth, Sean explains:
Their jobs range from cleaning through scaffolding to more specialised work. Estimates of 2,000 contractors – compared with about 1,370 permanent employees – probably fall short because many hundreds are brought in for regular projects often lasting months. Workers report that as Ineos prepared for last week’s shutdown, hundreds of contractors were laid off, including manual labourers earning only £200 or £300 a week.
A hotel owner who gets lots of business from putting up contract workers said that regulars have simply disappeared since last Monday as the shutdown loomed.
And here’s what a contract worker outside Grangemouth’s plant told Sean earlier today:
Everyone talks about the Ineos workers but I’m a contract worker and I’ve been here four years.
Contractors’ business is in limbo now. Nobody from Unite has come to us. I’m a shop steward and I’m not happy with them. What Ineos offered them [permanent staff], I’d bite your right arm off for it.
Contractors are already on a 30-day consultation and have been since October 11. The contracting companies here will be losing thousands because of this, or even millions for the big ones. I live day to day and contractors are used to being laid off but I’ve never been laid off when there’s so much work we could be doing in there. We’re not getting answers off Ineos and the union isn’t giving us answers. I’m upset with Unite and the way they have gone about their business. Hindsight is a great thing. Everybody has gone through hard times and there are hundreds of guys’ jobs on the line.
They should have taken [Jim] Ratcliffe’s offer straight away. He’s not daft – he’s a billionaire.
Len McCluskey has told Ineos’s management at Grangemouth that he’s prepared to meet with Jim Ratcliffe, the founder and chairman of the company, in a bid to save jobs at the site:
Unite tweets the news:
Ineos’s management are due to meet with Alistair Carmichael, the UK Scottish secretary, and John Swinney, Scotland’s finance secretary, and Unite representatives this afternoon.
Some Twitter reaction to the latest developments:
And here’s Len McCluskey on Sky News earlier:
The BBC has uploaded a video clip of Len McCluskey speaking at Grangemouth after his meeting with Unite’s shop stewards, and Ineos representatives.
As reported earlier, McCluskey explains that Unite has presented a “positive response” to Ineos’s survival plan for the plant, adding that he is “optimistic” that the site can be saved. It’s online here.
David Watt of the Institute of Directors isn’t as optimistic for the future of the Grangemouth’s petrochemical site as Len McCluskey, despite Unite’s offer to embrace the survival plan.
Speaking on BBC News 24, Watt warns that “there’s not a long queue of people who want to buy this plant”, if Ineos were to continue with its plan to not reopen it.
In the long term, he reckons that it could be transformed into a new, profitable operation after 2017, but needs to reduce its losses very quickly in the meantime.
In Westminster, David Cameron’s spokesman has welcomed today’s negotiations between Unite and Ineos’s management.
A Downing Street spokesman said:
The Prime Minister is keen that they are back round the table talking. Clearly, we want both sides to continue with those talks and come to a solution if possible.
Grangemouth is clearly of vital importance to the Scottish economy and the Prime Minister is keen that those discussions continue and hopefully they can find a solution.
Asked whether Mr Cameron might make a personal intervention in the dispute, the spokesman said:
The Government in Westminster is working very closely with the Scottish Government, and the Prime Minister is clearly in charge of the Westminster Government.
(quotes via PA)
My colleague Sean Farrell has been speaking to workers at Grangemouth today.
One shop steward told him that the union was engaged in a “last gasp” effort to negotiate a deal to save 800 people’s jobs at the site (shortly before Len McCluskey announced that the union was embracing the rescue plan)
Another accused Ineos acting in a “shocking” and “unpredictable” way, by acting so quickly to close the petrochemical operations at Grangemouth.
Len McCluskey also suggested that the site’s owners had been hasty, saying this morning that the proposed rescue plan had been presented “almost as a fait accompli”.
Interviewed on Sky News outside the plant, Len McCluskey reiterated that Unite has made concessions at this morning’s talks with Ineos.
McCluskey said he had told Ineos that:
We are prepared to embrace their survival plan and get into discussions about the future of the site.
He also repeated that “this plant is too important to be allowed to close”.
Asked whether Unite was agreeing to Ineos’s original proposal in full, McCluskey explained that Unite had told Ineos that “we’ve accepted the route you want to go down”, and would now sit down with immediate effect to discuss how to save the site.
Clearly Ineos’s decision yesterday to liquidate the petrochemicals’ arm has shaken Unite into changing its position.
Len McCluskey didn’t say exactly what Unite have just agreed to, but it appears the union has now accepted that workers must accept the pay freeze and pension cuts that were rejected by members earlier this week.
The Unite chief also denied that his union had been “humiliated” by events at Grangemouth, saying there is “nothing humiliating” about defending workers’ jobs and the Scottish economy.
And speaking on Sky News shortly afterwards, McCluskey said:
I’m optimistic that the olive branch being offered to Ineos will be taken up.
Len McCluskey: Unite makes new offer
Big News from Grangemouth: Len McCluskey, general secretary of Unite, has announced that the union have told Ineos that they will embrace the rescue plan, at this morning’s emergency talks.
Speaking after meeting with Ineos management, McCluskey said that Unite “was not going to allow this plant to close down”.
We are not going to let 800 jobs go and see Grangemouth turn into a ghost town, said McCluskey, speaking live on BBC News 24.
McCluskey continued that he is now “very positive” that the plant can stay open, and hopes Ineos’s shareholders will now be prepared to invest in the plant.
It’s now in the hands of Ineos on whether they are the ones who own the chemical plant, or whether along with the Scottish Government and the UK government we need to seek another owner.
More to follow….
Ineos director Tom Crotty has denied that the firm lured unions into a trap over Grangemouth.
Speaking on BBC News 24 few minutes ago, Crotty rejected the suggestion that Ineos has wanted to shut the plan all along, and used the unpalatable cost-cutting plan as a way of forcing the union’s hand. If staff had voted in favour, he argued, Ineos would have invested £300m and the plant would soon be reopening.
Crotty reiterated that Ineos will consult with shareholders again if the Unite union substantially alters its position and accepts major changes at the plant.
It’s a quiet morning in Europe’s stock markets, with the FTSE 100 gaining 20 points to 6694.
Here’s Nick Fletcher’s early market report: FTSE moves higher as miners gain ground after Chinese data
Unite’s Len McCluskey at Grangemouth talks
Len McCluskey, the general secretary of Unite, is in Grangemouth today taking part in the last-ditch negotiations over whether the petrochemical plant can be saved.
With hundreds of jobs in the balance, my colleague Sean Farrell is outside the plant and reports that union officials and management are locked in talks inside. No-one has yet come out to speak to the assembled media.
The front page of today’s Evening Times shows the anger in Scotland over the Grangemouth petrochemicals plant closure, and the separate loss of 140 jobs at a chemical factory run by BASF in Paisley.
The Scottish Government also hasn’t given up hope, and is still prepared to help keep the Grangemouth plant running.
Finance minister John Swinney told Good Morning Scotland he still hoped for a breakthrough at “this very, very, very late stage in the process”, saying:
Everybody is agreed that this plant has a strong future with the necessary investment and that is why the Scottish Government is wiling to be a player in that.
We are now in a position at the very late stage of having the opportunity to have a discussion about some of the substantive issues that will affect the financial future of the plant and I hope that discussion this morning is constructive and successful.
Ineos would take Unite’s new proposal for Grangemouth to its shareholders if it presents a “very significant” change of position, according to company director Tom Crotty.
Crotty told BBC Radio Scotland’s Good Morning Scotland programme that management will listen to Unite at today’s meeting, adding:
If they believe there are substantive differences in where we are now then clearly they have a duty to take that back to the shareholders.
The shareholders met after the vote on Monday and, quite understandably in my opinion, took a view that if the workforce had rejected that £300 million investment, then how were they going to go ahead and make it if the workforce were not behind that? That is why the closure announcement has been made.
FT: Ineos chairman found UK ‘hard work’
There’s a profile of Ineos’s multimillionaire chairman, Jim Ratcliffe, in today’s Financial Times. which says he’s “long tired” of running businesses in Britain.
Hull-born Ratcliffe, 61, grew Ineos through an acquisition spree, and apparently recently told the FT that the UK was proving increasingly expensive.
The paper also suggests that Ratcliffe feels betrayed by the unions after a strike back in 2008.
Here’s a flavour:
“It’s always been hard work for us to manufacture in the UK,” he said. “It’s not a particularly profitable place for us.”
The way he tells it, the business environment in Britain is bad and getting worse. Energy is expensive, logistics are costly, skills are “middle to poor” and unions resist change. Pension costs, meanwhile, are “outrageous”.
“The UK is one of the few places in the world that has final salary pensions,” he said.
This gloomy assessment, in a recent interview with the Financial Times, came just weeks before Ineos formally announced it was closing its Grangemouth chemicals plant – and suggests the move had been in the works for months, and possibly years
Eurozone sees ‘disappointing’ drop in private sector growth
We now have confirmation that private sector growth in the eurozone is slipping this month, defying expectations of stronger growth.
It’s a worrying sign for firms, individuals and policymakers in the euro area and beyond. Although there’s no suggestion that the eurozone is slipping back into recession, it may mean more stimulus measures are needed.
Markit’s ‘flash’ reading of the sector shows that growth is slowing. Its composite purchasing managers’ index (PMI) fell to 51.5 from September’s two-year high of 52.2. Any reading above 50 suggests a rise in activity.
Chris Williamson, chief economist at Markit, said the results were “clearly disappointing”, adding that it would be “unwise to read too much into one month’s data” (not that this stops Markit releasing PMI data twice each month – we get final data for October in a fortnight…)
Today’s figures suggest the eurozone will post economic growth of just 0.1% to 0.2% in the current quarter.
The dip in the PMI will remind policymakers that a sustainable upturn is by no means assured, and adds confirmation to the ECB’s view that the recovery is slow, uneven and fragile.
Attention is likely to be focused on whether the region requires more policy action to boost the recovery rather than on the timing of any withdrawal of stimulus
On the upside, Europe’s private firms have now been reporting growth for four months.
Nick Clegg on Grangemouth
Speaking on Radio 4’s Today programme, deputy prime minister Nick Clegg warned that the Grangemouth site (whose refinery arm produces 210,000 barrels of oil each day) is an “important part” of the UK’s economic infrastructure.
Clegg added that the future of Grangemouth is simply too crucial to become a “party political football”
Back to Grangemouth — my colleague Haroon Siddique writes:
Union leaders are to meet managers at the Grangemouth petrochemicals site in Scotland in a bid to save thousands of jobs after its owner abruptly closed the plant in a bitter industrial dispute.
Unite said it had made a number of recommendations to Ineos, which announced the closure of the plant on Wednesday with up to 800 petrochemical workers set to lose their jobs. The decision, announced after the workforce failed to accept management demands for radical changes to their employment terms and conditions, also threatens the positions of at least 600 employees at the oil refinery on the same site, which Ineos has refused to rule out closing, as well as 2,000 contract staff.
A union spokesman said on Thursday: “Unite has made recommendations to Ineos as way to save jobs [sic] and prevent needless harm to this plant and the local community.
“We meet with the company today and will hear then if they share these objectives.”
Here’s the full story: Grangemouth union to meet Ineos in bid to save petrochemicals plant
October also hasn’t been a great month for Germany’s private sector – new data from Markit shows it is growing at the slowest pace in three months.
Reuters sums it up:
Markit’s preliminary composite Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI), which tracks growth in both the manufacturing and services sector and covers more than two-thirds of the economy, slipped to 52.6 in October from 53.2 the previous month.
The reading was above the 50 mark that separates growth from contraction for a sixth straight month, but marked the lowest level since July as the services sector performed less well than expected.
“Germany’s private sector started the final quarter of 2013 in a positive fashion,” said Tim Moore, an economist at Markit.
“A slower rate of expansion in services activity meant that overall growth eased slightly from the trend recorded over the third quarter.”
And here’s a handy graph showing German business activity (blue) against official economic growth (orange):
But there’s a sliver of good news from Spain, where the unemployment rate inched down to 26% in the last three months, from 26.3% in the previous quarter.
French manufacturing activity fall
French business activity is stagnating this month, according to the latest assessment of its private companies.
Data provider Markit reported that French service sector only posted modest growth during October, while manufacturers reported a drop in activity. The amount of incoming new business fell.
This ’flash’ reading suggests the French economy, which posted decent data in September, is finding this month more of a struggle. More here.
Sky News are also reporting that a late u-turn is possible in Grangemouth:
The owner of the Grangemouth petrochemicals plant says it could reverse Wednesday’s decision to close it if “substantive” talks today yield union concessions.
The talks in Grangemouth were due to start a few minutes ago, at 8am BST.
Ineos took the decision to shut the plant after around half the site’s workers rejected the offer of a pay and bonus freeze until 2016, and an end to its final salary pension scheme.
But overnight, news broke that the unions were reconsidering. As the BBC news website puts it, “the Unite union appeared to be shifting its position and ready to accept the survival plan” (more here).
PA: Grangemouth unions and management to meet
Here’s Press Association’s early take on the situation in Grangemouth this morning, where unions have made new proposals to the site’s owners, Ineos:
Union leaders are to meet managers at the giant Grangemouth site in a bid to save thousands of jobs following the shock decision to close the petrochemcal side of the business.
Unite said it had made a number of recommendations to owner Ineos, which yesterday announced the closure of the petrochemical plant with the loss of 800 jobs and potential 2,000 more among contractors.
A union spokesman said: “Unite has made recommendations to Ineos as way to save jobs and prevent needless harm to this plant and the local community.
“We meet with the company today and will hear then if they share these objectives.”
The company insisted yesterday it had no alternative but to close the business after it failed to persuade its staff to accept a survival plan, which included a pay freeze, ending of a final salary pension scheme and other changes to terms and conditions.
Ineos said white-collar workers such as admin staff had backed the plan, but workers represented by Unite had rejected it.
The adjoining oil refinery at Grangemouth will stay open, although the entire site has been closed for the past week as a result of the dispute.
Almost 1,400 workers are employed at Grngemouth, Scotland’s biggest industrial site.
Politicians have urged the two sides to resume talks to prevent the closure, while efforts are expected to be made to find a potential buyer.
Ineos said it had been losing £10 million a month at Grangemouth.
Grangemouth rescue talks today
Good morning, and welcome to our rolling coverage of events across the financial market, the world economy, the eurozone and the business world.
There’s lots afoot today, both at home and abroad.
In Scotland, the race is on to save jobs at the Grangemouth plant. Union leaders and management will hold new talks today, following the grim news yesterday that the petrochemicals arm is to be shut.
Could there be a breakthrough? There are reports this morning that unions at the plant could make concessions in a bid to reverse the closure.
It’s also a busy day for economic news, with new data due shortly showing how the eurozone’s key services and manufacturing sectors are performing.
We’ve already seen new data from China, where manufacturing output jumped to a seven month high in September.
China’s manufacturing strengthened more than anticipated this month, a sign the recovery is gaining momentum as leaders struggle with surging home prices and local-government debt.
This graph shows the details:
And later today, EU leaders will be gathering for a Council meeting. Until recently, the future of the eurozone would have topped the agenda. Not any more. Indeed, reports that US intelligence tapped Angela Merkel’s mobile phone may overshadow the whole event.
I’ll be tracking events through the day, as usual….