Unite challenges first minister on the future of Grangemouth

Unite has called on the first minister, John Swinney, to “show us the plan” over the future of the Petroineos oil refinery based in Grangemouth.

Grangemouth Unite challenges first mininster

In social media comments the first minister said that he “cannot allow things to happen that are going to be damaging to Scotland”. John Swinney MSP also remarked that the Grangemouth complex is “absolutely fundamental” to the Scottish economy, and that he would work with Unite and Petroineos to “secure a future”.

Sharon Graham, Unite General Secretary said: “If they cannot allow damage to Scotland, why on earth has it taken the Scottish Government eight months to even talk about a plan to secure the future of the Grangemouth oil refinery and the jobs of people who work there? 


“Grangemouth is ‘absolutely fundamental’ to the Scottish economy. Unite’s message to politicians since November has been to work with us to develop a plan which can protect jobs, but we still have not seen one.  

“The Scottish Government has failed to act and make no mistake, Unite will always hold politicians to account for their failures to protect workers.”

Unite represents the 500 Petroineos oil refinery workers, and thousands more in the wider supply chain. Unite has repeatedly criticised the Scottish and UK Governments for their failure to support the Petroineos workers, and to bring forward proposals which can safeguard the future of the oil refinery and the wider Grangemouth complex.

Petroineos revealed in November 2023 that it plans to begin transitioning its refining operations in 2025. Under the proposals, the Grangemouth complex would then transition to primarily operate as an import and export oil terminal facility.

Unite survey

 In February, Unite released details of a survey involving hundreds of refinery workers, including contractors, which revealed the workforce believe there has been a collective failure to support them following the announcement by Petroineos to begin transitioning its Grangemouth refining operations. 

The survey found:

  • 93% agreed that the impact of any potential closure on the local Grangemouth economy and that of surrounding communities would be “severe”.
  • 88% responded saying that politicians were not doing enough to support and protect jobs at Grangemouth.
  • Only 11% expressed ‘confidence’ in finding a “like for like” job in the event of refinery operations ceasing at Grangemouth.
  • Only 3% expressed confidence in the ongoing “just transition” plans for oil and gas workers.

Lack of political support

Derek Thomson, Unite Scottish secretary added: “The governments at Holyrood and Westminster have been posted missing when it comes to supporting the Grangemouth oil refinery workers.

 “The lack of political support has been baffling given that the refinery and the wider Grangemouth complex is of enormous strategic importance to the Scottish economy and energy security.

“All major political parties in the Scottish Parliament have now supported an extension of the oil refinery’s operations and agree that any just transition must be properly managed and involve the workforce.

 “Yet not one concrete proposal has been brought forward by anyone. It is a national scandal.  Ultimately, it will be a major self-inflicted wound to the Scottish economy unless urgent action is taken.” In latest accounts, Petroineos recorded pre-tax profits of £107.5m in 2022. According to estimates, the Grangemouth complex contributes four per cent of Scottish GDP and makes up approximately eight per cent of Scotland’s manufacturing base.

Image supplied by INEOS