The future of the INEOS acrylonitrile plant was on the agenda yesterday at a series of meetings held between Stockton North MP, Alex Cunningham, Middlesbrough MP, Andy McDonald, and representatives of Unite the Union and INEOS.
The MPs were given a presentation on the challenges INEOS face, and the rationale behind their proposal to close the plant.
Since the announcement was made last Friday, Alex and Andy have been in discussions with the company and trade unions about the future of the plant in a bid to ensure the 220 direct jobs are protected where possible.
Discussions continue and I’m grateful to INEOS and Unite for meeting with Andy and taking us through a comprehensive report about the site. The formal consultation is now critical to ensure that people’s jobs are protected, but also to explore any avenues that could find another investor or establish whether there is a viable alternative to keep the plant open.
After writing to the Business Secretary and Tees Valley Mayor last week, I am still waiting for a response from both. However it is clear to me that, despite warm words about the “Northern Powerhouse” and “industrial strategies”, that is all they are. We need action from the Government to support our chemical industry – and we need it now.
I was incredibly impressed by the detailed knowledge of the Teesside business of the Unite representatives from the site but sadly our subsequent discussions with INEOS directly did nothing to assuage my fears about what the future holds, not just for the plant itself but for the whole process industry on Teesside. The impact locally will be immense.
The bottom line is that INEOS says the plant needs far too much money spending on the plant to make it economically viable. They say it’s been in need of investment for many years. That assessment needs careful examination.
What is obvious is that this Government hasn’t engaged on this issue at all. They have no Industrial Strategy and simply sit back and let critical UK jobs just go to the wall.