A UNION is to challenge a decision by owners of a petrochemical plant to refuse it official recognition.

Unite lost its status at the Grangemouth complex, operated by Ineos, in July after the firm said it was ending collective bargaining agreements at the site.

The union announced yesterday it had signed up a “considerable majority” of the 425 workers who want it to be reinstated.

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Unite assistant general secretary Howard Beckett said: “The workforce have spoken. They say they want Unite to represent them. They say that they want the union reinstated.

“The company has to listen to their own workforce, that would be a reasonable course to take for positive industrial relations. The workers want the union back. That is their legal right.”

Unite now plans to challenge the owners through official channels and force them to recognise the union and its next move will see them make an application to the Central Arbitration Committee.

If the union can show a certain level of membership and support for recognition, then the independent tribunal body can issue a declaration making recognition compulsory.

Beckett added: “We hope the company will depart from its current strategies and enter negotiations about reinstating Unite at the chemicals complex. That would be the sensible option.

“In any case, we are applying to the Central Arbitration Committee and we are confident that they will reinstate the union – even if the company decide not to negotiate.”

A long-running dispute over pay and conditions in October 2013 led to owners saying they would shut the plant, with the loss of about 800 jobs, but that decision was reversed after Unite accepted a survival plan for the business.

It included a three-year pay freeze, ending of the final salary pension scheme and other changes to terms and conditions.