The owners of the Grangemouth oil refinery in Scotland say the site will remain shut down despite the Unite union’s decision to call off a 48-hour strike planned to start on Sunday.

This afternoon the owner, Ineos, released a statement saying: “Grangemouth is shut down and will remain shut down.

“Grangemouth is financially distressed. The industrial action called by Unite the union has inflicted significant further damage on the company.

“Ineos will put a proposal to the workforce tomorrow and expects a response on Monday, after the weekend.

“The company will review its position with its shareholders on Tuesday.”

Earlier in the day Unite had announced it was calling off the planned strike despite the failure of conciliation talks with Ineos.

The talks at ACAS began yesterday afternoon in an acrimonious atmosphere as each side engaged in a public war of words, and ran through until 5am this morning.

Following the meeting, however, Unite Scottish Secretary Pat Rafferty issued the following statement, announcing that the planned action would be called off with immediate effect: “We are outraged that Ineos representatives walked away from ACAS talks, after 16 hours of negotiation and on the cusp of an agreement, for the ludicrous reason that Ineos chairman Jim Ratcliffe instructed his management representatives to demand an apology on his behalf.

“Unite offered Ineos every proposal we could practically make, specifically an offer to enter into negotiations under the auspices of ACAS to secure the future of Grangemouth with the immediate call-off of all industrial action and a guarantee of no strikes during these negotiations.

“However at 5am this morning ACAS representatives informed us that we could not conclude an agreement to take to our members because a list of fresh demands were placed upon us and because ’Jim wants an apology’ and that this was ’a deal-breaker’. I have never came across anything like this in over thirty years of employment relations and it is utterly reprehensible.

“It is absolutely incredible that the future of this site, its workforce - both permanent and contracted employees - and the national interest has been totally compromised by one man’s out of control ego.

“It’s clear to us that Jim Ratcliffe is not prepared to accept any proposals or negotiate on any principle. He is now systematically running the Grangemouth refinery and petrochemical sites into a damaging cold shutdown which will impact on fuel production and supply across Scotland - and he now doing this in full view of everyone.

“This also has serious ramifications for the safety of the site and for the surrounding area. The safety and integrity of the site and the local population are now paramount and we have an obligation to ensure that Ineos does not permanently decimate the plant’s assets and the workforce with this cold shutdown.

“As a result, Unite will now call off all industrial action with immediate effect in order to protect this national asset from the scandalous behaviour of its owner. The plant should now start the return to full production and there is no excuse for this not to happen.

“We will make further comment in due course following scheduled meetings with our membership later today.”