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Grangemouth refinery: Oil strike wins concessions
ON TUESDAY 29 April, following a short meeting at Grangemouth oil refinery's gates, the early shift returned to work, ending the 48-hour stoppage that had brought the flow of oil from the North Sea to a halt.
Ian Leech, Glasgow
The strike's effect was illustrated when Grangemouth's main owner Jim Ratcliffe was forced to fly back to Britain and meet with his management team and with Tony Woodley and Derek Simpson, joint general secretaries of the union Unite.
Details of the talks have not been made public but, according to Unite, the union and management have agreed a joint proposal to be put to the workforce. The employers' original proposal to end the final-year salary scheme by imposing a new and inferior pension scheme on the workforce on 1 August this year has been shelved as a result of the action.
Acres of newsprint were spent condemning the workforce's actions as they fought to defend their pensions scheme against the proposals of multi-billionaire Jim Ratcliffe. 'How can twelve hundred people hold the country to ransom?' was the line used by many.
The question may be one-sided but the implication is not wide of the mark as the action shows the power that the organised working class have. The lessons will not be lost on other groups considering action to defend their living standards or conditions of service.
The workers made it clear that they are prepared to take further industrial action if the management's proposals are not scrapped. They are also aware that management have tried 'delaying tactics' before in an attempt to drag talks out until the summer close-down for maintenance.
In The Socialist 7 May 2008:
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Socialist Party Marxist analysis
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Socialist Party workplace news