Time for an obligatory post on the Grangemouth strike against private equity pirates Ineos – which has made an impact before it’s even started – and since others have already said it better than I ever could, prepare yourself for some excessive quotation…
The strike is definitely going ahead, according to Unite general secretary Tony Woodley, speaking at a mass meeting yesterday:
Speaking before addressing a mass meeting at the plant, Woodley said: ‘There’s no possibility of withdrawing the strike action. We need to understand what we’re dealing with here.
‘We’ve got a company that is owned by a multi-millionaire close to being a billionaire. We’ve got a company that is cash-rich with a pension scheme that is also cash-rich.
‘We’ve got a pension scheme that is viable and we’ve got a pension scheme that the company has already cut its own contribution to by 30 per cent for the last couple of years.
‘And in spite of all those reasons they still want to remove the scheme for new starters and I believe eventually remove it for all of our members and we are not prepared to accept that, not under any circumstances.’
David Semple remarks of Ineos, in an excellent post on the dispute:
This is the same company, owned by Jim Ratcliffe, that tried to extort £300 million pounds from the government with the threat of 133,000 job losses. Most of Ratcliffe’s rapid expansion has been funded by debt, according to speculation, in an era when liquidity was much more readily available. The credit doesn’t seem to have affected expansions though.
Ineos can fund a seventy million pound expansion in France and ten times that amount in Scotland, but it can’t fully fund the pension scheme it had previously agreed with its employees. In fact, according to Unite, Ineos has pilfered £40 million from the pension scheme as well as slashing it’s own contributions. It’s all very well to make these arguments in a period of financial success but even worldwide economic collapse wouldn’t mean we should accept cuts in workers’ wages.
As John McDonnell has posted,
This dispute cannot be charicatured in the usual way by the media as a group of selfish workers striking out of self interest. These workers are striking to prevent their company’s pension scheme being undermined for future workers joining the scheme. They are standing up to protect the pensions of future generations of workers in their industry.
Gordon Brown is currently supposed to be writing another of his books on heroes and heroism. I suggest that he includes a chapter on the selfless sacrifice of the Grangemouth heroes who have had the courage and determination to stand up and fight to protect for the pensions of workers yet to come.
Perhaps Brown will have a lot of time on his hands in the next few months in which to get writing…
Ian has some comments pilfered from the BBC’s comments section of their site, which are supportive of the action being taken. And there’s a good summary of the dispute at the Socialist Appeal website, by the way.