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'Economic vandalism' accusation for Hampshire millionaire Jim Ratcliffe's firm Ineos
A HAMPSHIRE multi-millionaire's oil company has been accused of “economic vandalism” after a decision to keep an oil refinery closed, even though a planned strike has been called off.
Union Unite said Ineos, which is run by Jim Ratcliffe, who lives near Beaulieu in the New Forest, was “holding Scotland to ransom” over the closure of the Grangemouth refinery.
Mr Ratcliffe and fellow bosses at the refinery have been accused of “reckless behaviour” by the union, but Ineos has said Grangemouth is “financially distressed”.
The union announced it was calling off a planned two-day strike from Sunday even though peace talks at the conciliation service Acas ended without agreement after 16 hours.
The union accused the company of ''walking away'' from the talks just as a deal was close to being agreed in a row about union convenor Stephen Deans.
Union members were due to walk out for 48 hours from Sunday over the treatment of Mr Deans.
He was involved in the row over the selection of a Labour candidate in Falkirk, where he is chairman of the constituency party.
He was suspended by Ineos and later reinstated, but is facing an internal investigation by the company over issues linked to the Falkirk affair.
A company spokesman said Grangemouth ''is shut down and will remain shut down'', and added: ''Grangemouth is financially distressed. The industrial action called by Unite the union has inflicted significant further damage on the company.
''Ineos will put a proposal to the workforce tomorrow and expects a response on Monday, after the weekend. The company will review its position with its shareholders on Tuesday.''
Unite regional secretary Pat Rafferty said: ''Ineos's decision to keep Grangemouth shut is an act of economic vandalism. There is absolutely no reason for the site to remain shut - the company is holding Scotland to ransom.
''The Scottish and Westminster governments must now act without further delay.
''Unite acted in the national interest by calling off the strike because Ineos had no right to initiate a cold shutdown - a shutdown against the wishes of the Health and Safety Executive, and against the economic interests of the country. Unite is calling for the Health and Safety Executive to visit the site urgently as we believe this is reckless behaviour.''
Earlier this month the Daily Echo reported how a Government planning inspector threw out Mr Ratcliffe's plans for a five-bedroom mansion made mainly of glass on a site at Thorns Beach, on the 7,000-acre Beaulieu Estate.
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