THE GMB union has condemned climate change activists for blocking the gates of the Ineos refinery in Grangemouth with boats in a protest against pollution.

The union said Extinction Rebellion were "detached from reality and the struggles of working people".

Extinction Rebellion Scotland claims Ineos is Scotland’s biggest climate polluter and is staging the blockade as part of a programme of action.

Police have been called and warned of arrests as groups of no more than six people have locked themselves together at the gates and aim to remain there all day.

One police office told protesters lying on the road: "Is there anything that I can reasonably say or do, that will assist us in getting you off this road".

HeraldScotland:

Source: Extinction Rebellion Scotland

When asked if they would leave group members said 'no'.

Police went on to warn that if they fail to leave they would be arrested.

But GMB's Scottish representatives said that all the protesters have done is cause disruption to the lives of workers.

More than 40 of the climate change campaigners took part in the surprise protest.

Demonstrators from Extinction Rebellion were trying to prevent access to the Ineos plant. Ineos said it would continue to explore ways to reduce emissions at its sites.

Protesters from across the country, arrived at 6am this morning and blocked three roads into the Grangemouth site, to prevent lorries and workers from entering the plant.

A long line of lorries honked their horns as the action caused major traffic disruption.

GMB Scotland Secretary Gary Smith said: “Extinction Rebellion look detached from the reality and struggles of working people across Scotland today. We are in the middle of a public health crisis and we are about to be hit by the biggest jobs crisis in a generation.

“This comes in the same week where Scotland has been caught again exporting the jobs of the future in offshore wind manufacturing, while our workhorse industries like energy and aviation are facing decimation. Our economy is in dire straits and no one in Scottish politics has a credible plan for jobs to aid our post-COVID recovery, but they seem willing to indulge Extinction Rebellion.

“Extinction Rebellion claim they want to save the planet but you have to ask what planet they are on when they are intent on causing so much disruption to the lives of hard-working people. They are looking and acting like part of the problem, not the solution.”

Ineos is the UK’s largest plastic producer and to swerve Scotland’s fracking ban, it imports fracked shale gas from Pennsylvania.

The plant is owned by Britain’s richest man, multi-billionaire Jim Ratcliffe.

Ineos own five oil, chemical and power plants in Grangemouth which in 2019 released a staggering 3.2 million tonnes of carbon dioxide pollution - a primary driver of global warming.

Extinction Rebellion Scotland said Covid-19 safety precautions were being taken, including face masks, social distancing and use of hand sanitiser, while participating activists were using a track and trace app.

Campaigners held up banners stating "No Future in Fossil Fuels" and "Climate Justice = Social Justice".

Ineo said: "As more and more energy-intensive manufacturing industries in Scotland close down, then it is inevitable that those which the Scottish economy so heavily rely on will stand out above the rest in terms of their emissions.

"Observers should be left in no doubt: manufacturing products in the UK we rely on every day, every week, every year reduces carbon footprint from importing such items, ensures compliance with the strictest environmental and safety standards and delivers carbon savings through their applications, 'light-weighting' vehicles, components for wind turbines and so on.

"We do our utmost to do this as efficiently (and environmentally responsibly) as possible - because this is how we will remain in business."

A Police Scotland spokesman said: "Officers are currently in attendance at a peaceful protest in Bo'ness Road and Inchyra Road, Grangemouth.

"The roads are blocked and drivers are asked to avoid the area. We are liaising with the protest organisers, Extinction Rebellion."