BP Grangemouth

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:32 pm on 21st May 2003.

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Photo of Michael Connarty Michael Connarty Labour, Falkirk East 12:32 pm, 21st May 2003

Under Standing Order No. 24, I ask that you, Mr. Speaker, grant an emergency debate on the health and safety impact of BP's demand for 240 new redundancies at Grangemouth in my constituency. Those are additional to the 700 redundancies agreed in 2001–02, which are still being implemented. I am deeply concerned about the employment impact and the impact on the local and Scottish economy. I am also concerned about the diminishing local and Scottish spend by BP in Grangemouth.

The impact on health and safety is the most urgent, important and specific reason for calling for a debate. I am sure that you will recall, Mr. Speaker, the seven major health and safety incidents at Grangemouth between 1998 and June 2002—including a major fire and an explosion. BP management were heavily fined on several occasions for safety breaches and a major health and safety taskforce imposed a Health and Safety Executive improvement notice on the plant, which ran until May 2002 and led to a major upgrade of safety and maintenance. An important aspect of the problem is that the A904 Bo'ness road from Grangemouth runs through the middle of the BP complex and an explosion took place only 10 minutes after a woman and her dog had passed the pipe that exploded on the main road.

The 700 redundancies are not yet fully implemented. Some people are still to leave the plant; some are still in training to run the plant with 700 fewer staff; and the health and safety control of major accident hazards certificates have not yet been granted for running the plant at the operating levels that will result from having 700 fewer workers. The manager of the plant, Colin Maclean, is basically a BP hit man. He has been around the world—particularly in Brisbane and America—taking people out of plants. He now wants 66 per cent. of the health and safety department out; a further 70 to 80 plant operators out; the engineering maintenance section out—the engineering fabrication section out, even though the ink is still to dry on the agreement that he signed. He also wants management supervision levels out, thereby placing dangerous work loads on front-line plant operators.

The BP plant in Grangemouth made a $71 million operating profit in the first quarter of this year. There was a 94.1 per cent. availability of plant—and every 1 per cent. increase in availability is worth £10 million to the company. The manager seems determined to turn back the clock to a time when the plant was not properly maintained, there were not enough staff and lives were endangered in the plant and in my community. We must not let Colin Maclean, who is the man responsible, risk health and safety and endanger lives in the community of Grangemouth in my constituency, for the sake of corporate greed. I ask that we debate the issue now as a matter of urgency.