Remember The Grangemouth Refinery Crisis

Remember The Grangemouth Refinery Crisis

The crisis first came to the attention of the Scottish public through a series of press releases exposing gerrymandering by UNITE, who had packed the local election committee, ensuring election of a UNITE member to the status of official parliamentary candidate, (2015 election) for Falkirk West Labour Party. Extensive inquiry by Labour Party investigators, (sent from England) concluded there was, “no doubt” that United had attempted to manipulate the selection process. All sorts of shenanigans came to light, involving UNITE and Labour Party members of distinction. Johan Lamont, leader of the Labour Party in Scotland, preferring to keep her counsel, provided scarce comment, (throughout the scandal), disappointing Labour Party supporters.

Just about the same time it came to light that UNITE had decided upon strike action at the Grangemouth refinery claiming workers were fed up with oppressive management and poor financial rewards. A period of charge and counter-charge followed, at the end of which management advised the plant would be closed down throwing the entire workforce onto the dole.

Pressure, from a range of interested parties, (excluding Labour) was applied requesting that Alex Salmond, (First Minister) nationalize Grangemouth thereby protecting the workers, saving an important industry. His response was that he had no authority to direct the final outcome of the dispute since issues pertaining to energy were reserved to Westminster and there had been no indication of interest, from that place. He went on to advise that the Scottish Government had reported the matter to the Scottish Secretary, (Alistair Carmichael) gaining support, allowing Alex Salmond to enter into discussions with management and staff with the purpose of finding a way out of the difficulty.

Alex Salmond, (First Minister) and a team drawn from the Scottish Government worked long hours and many days, with the purpose of achieving a solution to the difficulties, against an movable deadline imposed by management. At the eleventh hour a breakthrough was achieved providing opportunity for change acceptable to management, staff and a reluctant union. The agreement committed staff to a 3 year, “no strike” period coupled with a reduction in working terms and conditions reflecting the reality of a downturn in the business of the Company. Johan Lamont and the Labour Party remained strangely silent throughout the confrontation giving credence to views that the Party had, “washed it’s hands of the workers” and the UNITE union at Grangemouth. How sad.

The September referendum provides opportunity for reflection by the Scottish electorate, who may be employed in companies supporting union representation that, “when the chips are down” the Labour Party in Scotland will turn it’s face away leaving staff in the lurch. Vote, “Yes” in the referendum, creating a genuine, “Scottish Labour Party” breaking free of the restraints of existing systems which do nothing for Scotland.

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