Cornered at First Minister’s Questions about a letter that he had not answered, Alex Salmond has agreed to meet the Ineos workforce at Grangemouth.
The commitment was given in response to a question from Falkirk East MSP Cathy Peattie.
Answering Cathy’s first question, the First Minister said that the Scottish Government last met Ineos at the Grangemouth refinery on 10 January.
Cathy then asked: “Did the cabinet secretary receive any assurances about the continuation of production and jobs at Grangemouth? When the cabinet secretary visited on the day of the announcement, why did he not take time to speak to the workforce? Does the First Minister share my concern that the major stakeholders in Grangemouth were not consulted? Why has the First Minister not responded to a letter of 4 February from the Grangemouth workforce raising its concerns?”
The First Minister said that the Scottish Government had received assurances from Calum Maclean, the chief executive officer of INEOS Refining that “These agreements will help secure the long term future of jobs and skills at Grangemouth and Lavera, in partnership with one of the world’s largest energy companies … They present a clear opportunity for INEOS to progress its aim of forming strategic partnerships which help grow and strengthen its business. The agreements will provide further investment in our refineries, securing their competitiveness in European markets”.
As to why the Cabinet Secretary had not met the workforce when he visited in January, Alex Salmond did not say – referring instead to having been “deeply involved in 2008” and having “met the workforce in 2009”.
“He offered no explanation,” said Cathy later, “for the lack of a meeting, why stakeholders were not consulted, or why he had not answered a letter sent nearly three weeks earlier.
“He did say that he ‘would be happy to meet the Grangemouth workforce’, and that he ‘will be delighted to respond to the letters from the workforce’ – although I’m not sure how long that will take.
“I have informed the workforce of the First Minister’s offer to meet them …”