Looming strike 'threatens fuel chaos across Britain'

20-04-2008

Looming strike 'threatens fuel chaos across Britain'
A strike at Scotland's only crude oil refinery due next weekend will lead to fuel shortages across the UK, operating firm Ineos has warned.

Workers at the Grangemouth refinery voted overwhelmingly for a two-day strike on April 27th and 28th in a dispute over their final pension scheme.

Ineos has already begun shutting down the refinery, an early move it says is necessary to maintain safety standards, and is warning "the whole of Scotland could be without fuel for a month" if the strike goes ahead as planned.

"This is a huge oil refinery – and they know you can't just turn it on and off like a tap," Ineos Olefins chief executive Tom Crotty said.

"They've deliberately chosen a course of action that is the minimum pain for them, but which will inflict the maximum pain on Scotland and the whole UK."

The Unite union, which represents 1,200 workers at the petrochemical site, says it will challenge Ineos' planned changes to its final salary pension scheme.

Joint national officer Phil McNulty said the union was "outraged" by Ineos' proposals.

"The existing pension arrangement is excellent and the fact that the business is highly successful means that the Ineos pension scheme should be one of the best and the most secure in the country," he said.

"Industrial action is never desirable but this is the only possible sanction against a company prepared to make such an audacious attack against our members."

Ineos proposes closing the scheme to new starters and the introduction of a six per cent employee contribution for those already on it.

It claims payments into the pension scheme could see the proportion of employee expenditure going to pensions rising to 50 per cent, a figure it says is "excessive and unsustainable in the longer term".

Negotiations are ongoing.

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