Occupy and demand nationalisation at Grangemouth

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THE people of Scotland will be watching tomorrow and expecting you to ‘fire up Grangemouth’ was the message from Unite to Jim Ratcliffe and Ineos shareholders, as two-in-three Unite members at Grangemouth rejected the company’s ‘sign or be sacked’ ultimatum.

663, over 65 per cent (80 per cent of the workers Unite bargains for) have so far rejected the company’s cynical attempt to intimidate the workforce, a figure the union believes will grow despite Ineos’ arbitrary deadline.

Urging the company back to ACAS Pat Rafferty, Unite Scottish secretary, said: ‘This resounding rejection of the company’s cynical blackmail sends a clear message to the company.

‘The 663 people who have so far rejected Ineos’ ultimatum are the backbone of the plant, the people who keep the site running and the oil flowing.

‘The people of Grangemouth and Scotland will be expecting Jim Ratcliffe and the Ineos shareholders to now take heed. Do the right thing tomorrow, drop the threats to the workforce, fire up the plant and get around the table at ACAS.

‘This is an overwhelming rejection of the company’s blackmail and threats. This workforce has said that they want to secure a future for Grangemouth, free from fear, based on negotiation not confrontation.

‘The shareholders need to recognise the strength of feeling among the workforce and instruct senior managers to get back to ACAS and to come clean about the company’s finances. With Ineos making £2 billion in profits last year people don’t think that their claims of financial distress stack up.’

Despite the Unite trade union leadership providing little or no leadership, having cancelled their strike action, the majority of Grangemouth workers have stood fast and rejected the union-busting, pension-busting, jobs-busting ultimatum of the Ineos bosses.

Meanwhile, Scotland’s finance minister John Swinney has said that the Scottish SNP government is trying to find a buyer for the Grangemouth refinery and petrochemicals plant, and has been having ‘discussions with other players’.

Grangemouth plays a decisive role in bringing ashore North Sea oil, and supplies petrol and diesel to the whole of Scotland and the north of England.

‘I don’t think it will come as any surprise to anyone that the government is looking for alternative options and there certainly will be other players around the globe interested in this particular plant.

‘We have certainly had discussions with other players and the Scottish government will engage in any discussions that are helpful to ensure Grangemouth can continue to make a major contribution to the health and well-being of the Scottish economy.’

However, all workers know that any new employer will be seeking exactly the same conditions as the current owners are seeking to impose, or worse, and will be relying on the Unite leadership to assist them in ‘selling’ a similar deal on the basis that something is better than nothing.

In fact, the Ineos owners of the Grangemouth complex were meeting late yesterday and are considering announcing the closure of the plant. No doubt they plan to reopen at a later date with a new cheap labour force, without any trade union representation and without adequate pensions.

It is clear that this crisis situation – which will be replicated throughout the whole of UK industry if the bosses get away with it at Grangemouth – demands decisive action from Unite and massive support from the entire trade union movement.

The Unite leaders must stop retreating and organise action. Unite must occupy the plant, fire up the furnaces, and demand that it be nationalised and put under under workers’ management.

Unite must call on all unions to support their action, and insist that an injury to one is an injury to all.

It must demand that the TUC General Council, as a first step, call a one day general strike in support of the Grangemouth workers, since every worker will suffer if Ineos is allowed to trample over the Grangemouth workers.