A strike which could close down Scotland's only oil refinery will go ahead after talks between the Unite union and plant bosses broke down.

Operators Ineos and the union held two days of talks at conciliation service Acas in a bid to halt the strike by workers at the Grangemouth plant.

Up to 1,200 workers will walk out on Sunday and Monday over proposals to change pension scheme arrangements.

The refinery processes 210,000 barrels of oil a day.

Pension plans

The union announced on Wednesday evening that the talks, which began on Tuesday afternoon, had failed to find a breakthrough.

The strike had been called in protest at plans by Ineos to close its final salary pension scheme to new workers and to make other changes to its pensions.

A union spokesman said: "Unite's negotiators were disappointed with the company's refusal to withdraw controversial pensions plans and therefore the two-day strike will go ahead.

"Although the strike has not been averted, Unite and the company have reached an agreement that will maintain the safety of the site and the integrity of the plant for the duration of the dispute."

Ineos has already started shutting down Grangemouth and warned of fuel shortages from later this week if the strike went ahead.

The firm said the union's rejection came hours after Ineos offered to take all changes to the existing pension scheme "off the table".

It wanted to make them the subject of a three month discussion on the basis that both sides "would engage in meaningful dialogue" and that the strike threat would be removed.

It also wanted all future employees to join a Defined Contribution pension scheme.

Ineos chief executive Tom Crotty said: "We have done everything we can to help resolve this dispute.

"Our latest offer to suspend all proposed changes to the existing pension scheme is just another example of us bending over backwards to bring this conflict to an end.

"The plain fact is that the union seems hell bent on pursuing a strike that will cause chaos and disruption for the people of Scotland and across the UK."

Ineos said it had been forced to continue with its plans to close its operation on Saturday evening.

Mr Crotty added: "The union rejection means we have no option but to completely shut down the Grangemouth site to ensure it is safe during the 48 hour strike."

A statement from Acas said that although the two sides had not come to an agreement, time had been spent addressing the issue of safety and the integrity of the Grangemouth site during the strike.

It said: "An agreement covering these issues has been reached for the period of the dispute.

"Acas has advised both the company and Unite that the opportunity to seek assistance of Acas to pursue an agreement has been offered."

BBC News