Page last updated at 14:03 GMT, Tuesday, 22 April 2008 15:03 UK

'Be realistic' call to petrol workers

As talks are held at Acas to resolve the Grangemouth oil refinery dispute, David Watt, of the Institute of Directors in Scotland, warns of the damage a strike will cause the economy.

This current episode taking place at Ineos is doing nothing to help Scotland's reputation as a good place to do business.

Strikes and industrial unrest paint a bad picture for our nation so it is essential that Unite and Ineos manage to resolve their row at their meeting today - I am optimistic that strike action will be prevented.

David Watt

The Ineos staff at Grangemouth need to be realistic. I am told workers currently enjoy good salaries of on average 40,000 per year, nearly double the average Scots salary.

I understand that they currently receive non-contributory fixed salary pensions, which are virtually unheard of in the private sector these days.

This type of pension is unrealistic and unsustainable and it is no wonder Ineos are now asking their staff to contribute a small percentage of their salaries to their pensions.

The truth is that these employees have done well so far and they will not find much sympathy when the public find out that they earn large wages and enjoy gold-plated pensions denied to so many Scots.

It is not just the workers that will be affected by this change of pension. Every level of staff in the company, from directors down, will have to adhere to the new scheme.

The concerns about the impact of the strike have already led to an understandable yet, in my view, wholly unnecessary reaction from the public - I saw a woman filling up her car as well as jerry cans of petrol last night and queues have been forming at petrol stations across the country.

I would urge the union to call off the strike to allow further negotiation and discussion to take place

However, it is important for people not to panic buy to this ludicrous extent as they will only do more harm to Scotland's economy.

Buying extra fuel will only exacerbate the problem. The public can help out by purchasing their fuel as normal. There is no need for panic as suppliers will simply source their stocks elsewhere.

Meanwhile, back at Grangemouth, I sincerely hope that the forces of reason will prevail. Strike action would be severely damaging for Scotland and its economy.

I would urge the union to call off the strike to allow further negotiation and discussion to take place.

In the meantime, it would restore confidence and calm amongst Scotland's motorists.

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