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Grangemouth workers stay strong

Local Labour MP slams the 'unadulterated greed' of Ineos owner Jim Ratcliffe

Hundreds of Unite members facing a lockout at the massive Ineos refinery and chemical complex in Grangemouth cheered loudly yesterday as local Labour MP Michael Connarty slammed the "unadulterated greed" of Ineos owner Jim Ratcliffe.

"I would buy the plant for £1!" Connarty told a rally outside the site gates, mocking claims by Ineos that the Grangemouth petrochemical business is worthless.

Supporters from unions and communities across Scotland braved heavy rain to join the demo.

Mr Connarty said that Mr Ratcliffe would be "printing money" if he got what he wanted - pay cuts and a government bailout.

"The company just wants its money out of the plant faster and they want £50 million out of this community - that's just unadulterated greed."

The MP called on First Minister Alex Salmond to intervene directly with Ineos to guarantee the company will return the plant to operation immediately.

"Unite already gave a no-strike agreement in the Acas talks. The company now has to put the plant back on and take the gun away from the head of this community."

Unite has planned a legal challenge to the company's "sign or be sacked" ultimatum set for 6pm today, which demands that workers agree to the scrapping of their pension scheme, a pay freeze and pay cuts.

Stewards were busy at the end of the rally collecting ultimatum letters to hand back unsigned to Ineos in a collective gesture of defiance.

Unite convener Stevie Deans told the Morning Star: "Our next step is to get these forms to the company for the meeting we're having on Tuesday. We've already collected hundreds and we expect more."

Ineos claims the future profitability of the Grangemouth petrochemical site "cannot be assured" and has threatened to close it in 2017 without fresh investment and changes to workers' terms and conditions.

Mr Ratcliffe insisted in yesterday's Sunday Times: "This is not a bluff. The clock is ticking."

But analysis of company books for Unite by tax expert Richard Murphy shows that the accounts are "contradictory" and raises questions as to whether they should have been signed off by auditor PWC.

Ineos has written off £389m of plant equipment, some of which was invested as recently as 2012, as well as £464m of internal loans.

But in the last year sales were up by 50 per cent, gross profits by 20 per cent and operating profit by 56 per cent.

The accounts also show that the company will be sufficiently profitable in coming years to realise deferred tax assets of £117m - which means it expects to rake in more than £500m in profit.

Unite Scottish secretary Pat Rafferty said that "blows a massive hole in the company's claims that there are serious difficulties in the Grangemouth site."

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