Unite, the union involved in the dispute at the Grangemouth refinery in Scotland, has accused the site’s owner, Ineos, of behaving recklessly, claiming it refused to accept a formal request to use the services of the conciliation service ACAS.

The union has had meetings with the energy minister Michael Fallon in London, and the deputy first minister for Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon, in Edinburgh, to discuss the dispute which centres around union official Stephen Deans.

Unite regional secretary Pat Rafferty said: “It is our view that Ineos is using Stephen Deans, who is an innocent man, and the country’s energy supplies as pawns in some twisted industrial game. The company’s inaction will force the union into industrial action which would inevitably put the nation’s fuel supply at risk. It will be Ineos’ refusal to engage that will be to blame should this happen. Ineos’ unknown objectives are a mystery to us and it seems intent on confrontation.

“This latest move by Ineos to refuse the opportunity to use the conciliation service ACAS to try to resolve this dispute is utterly baffling. Why would Jim Ratcliffe and his team not do everything possible to try to resolve this dispute?

“Management has now also refused Unite union representatives time-off to attend a meeting with energy minister Michael Fallon to discuss the dispute, a move which is both highly unusual and destructive.

“The people of Scotland and northern England have a right to be angry and bewildered by this company’s alarming behaviour. Petrol supplies are at risk because this company is behaving with astonishing recklessness.

“If Ineos won’t listen to good sense then we urge senior government ministers in Westminster and Scotland to demand that Ineos goes to Acas and ends the gunboat diplomacy.”

Industrial action began on Monday 7 October with a ban on overtime and a work-to-rule, and on Wednesday the PRA urged forecourts supplied by Grangemouth to increase stocks in case there was strike action.