UNITE has urged Grangemouth workers not to give in to Ineos’ ‘menacing’ tactics to sign away their rights, saying it was looking to take legal action over the company’s ‘sign or be sacked’ ultimatum to slash jobs, pay and pensions.
The union accused the company of ‘cynical blackmail’, as it told workers that they could lose their jobs and be re-employed on poorer terms unless they agreed to give up their final salary pension and accept pay freezes and pay cuts by 18.00 on Monday 21 October.
Expressing shock over the move – which will create a two-tier workforce and strip away collective rights – the union questioned the legality of the company’s actions and vowed not to allow workers being ‘menaced’ into signing away their livelihoods.
Commenting, Pat Rafferty, Unite Scottish secretary, said: ‘This is cynical blackmail from a company that is putting a gun to the heads of its loyal workforce to slash pay, pensions and jobs…It is increasingly clear that the company is deliberately generating a dispute and hiding behind fancy accounting to attack its own workforce…
‘We will not allow such an important national asset to be held to ransom and urge Ineos to drop the blackmail and engage meaningfully with the workforce over a transitional agreement.’
An independent analysis released by Unite shows that Ineos ‘Chemicals’ expects to make profits of half a billion pounds in the coming years and that labour costs, including pensions, account for just under 17 per cent of total turnover.
The company is obviously engaged in union, wages, and pension busting, and will not be stopped by words alone or by calling off strikes, or by threats of legal action, as if the capitalist state is in the business of championing the causes of workers.
The whole of the working class in the UK and abroad will support any action that the Grangemouth workers and the Unite trade union take to defend their rights.
The IndustriALL Global Union has made it clear that it understands that Ineos is determined to provoke a war with the unions. It states: ‘after several hours of negotiations, and on the brink of an agreement, Ineos representatives walked out of the talks in the early hours of 16 October. Unite had offered Ineos every proposal they could make but were met with a list of new demands, including one for an apology to Ineos Chairman Jim Ratcliffe.’
IndustriALL adds: ‘Unite the Union has responded to these provocations by calling off all industrial action by guaranteeing not to go on strike during the negotiations to protect the Grangemouth site, which is an important asset for all the parties. Unite the Union is fully committed to avoiding any damage with cold shutdown to ensure fuel production and supply across Scotland, and the safety of the site and the surrounding areas.’
It continues: ‘It is imperative that Ineos refrain from any irresponsible behaviour that would jeopardise the future of the Grangemouth site. IndustriALL Global Union calls on Ineos to follow Unite’s exemplary responsible behaviour by returning to the negotiation table and giving full consideration to the unions’ legitimate demands.’
It concludes: ‘We are prepared to mobilise our member unions all over the world to launch a protest campaign targeting all subsidiaries and supply chains of Ineos and PetroChina.’
It is now crystal clear that Ineos has declared war and is intent on crushing the union and its membership.
Rolling over and playing dead is not a policy, neither is cancelling strike actions. Ineos is carrying out a prepared plan in which nothing it does is accidental, as it proceeds from one stage to the next.
The only way for Unite to defend wages, jobs, pensions and the union at Grangemouth is to take strike action, occupy the site, and bring out other sections of the union, while urging unions such as the GMB to give their full support.
The issue must be taken to the TUC with a demand for mass solidarity action by all unions in the UK.
International trade unions must take action against Ineos and PetroChina while, at home, the whole movement must be mobilised to defeat Ineos, and to demand that it be nationalised.