Speech by STUC General Secretary to the UNITE INEOS rally in Grangemouth calls for new owners

October 21st 2013

SPEECH BY STUC GENERAL SECRETARY GRAHAME SMITH CALLS FOR NEW OWNERS

INEOS RALLY

GRANGEMOUTH

20 OCTOBER 2013

THANK YOU FOR GIVING ME THE OPPORTUNITY TO CONVEY MY PERSONAL SUPPORT AND SOLIDARITY TO YOU IN THESE DIFFICULT CIRCUMSTANCE - CIRCUMSTANCES THAT ARE THE CONSEQUENCES OF THE ACTIONS OF AN EMPLOYER WHICH HAS SHOWN ITSELF TO BE UTTERLY WITHOUT SCRUPLES; AND WHICH EXPECTS EVERYONE - YOU - ITS EMPLOYEES; YOUR UNION; AND EVEN GOVERNMENT TO BOW DOWN IN THE FACE OF ITS ECONOMIC POWER.

I HAVE A MESSAGE FOR JIM RATCLIFFE – THE INEOS WORKERS DON’T STAND ALONE, WE STAND WITH THEM AND WE DON’T INTEND TO BOW DOWN.

I WENT ON TO THE INEOS WEBSITE LAST WEEK.

ONE OF THE STRAPLINES IT USES TO PROMOTE THE COMPANY SAYS:

INEOS: ENHANCING STANDARDS OF LIVING FOR PEOPLE AROUND THE WORLD.

AT THE END OF THAT STATEMENT IT SHOULD SAY - EXCEPT AT GRANGEMOUTH.

IT CLEAR TO ME THAT THE COMPANY HAS ONE OVERWHELMING OBJECTIVE – TO BREAK YOUR UNION, IN ORDER TO DO WHAT IT WANTS WITH YOUR JOB, YOUR PAY AND YOUR PENSIONS.

THAT IS WHY IT IS VICTIMISING STEPHEN DEANS; THAT IS WHY IT REFUSES TO NEGOTIATE IN GOOD FAITH WITH UNITE; THAT IS WHY IT IS ATTACKING THE FACILITY TIME OF YOUR REPS; AND IS NOW TRYING TO BULLY YOU INTO ABANDONING THE UNION.

I NOTICED THAT THE COMPANY ACCUSED UNITE OF WANTING STEVIE TO BE TREATED DIFFERENTLY FROM ALL OTHER INEOS EMPLOYEES.

AS FAR AS I CAN SEE, IT IS THE COMPANY THAT WANTS STEVIE TO BE TREATED DIFFERENTLY– BY SINGLING HIM OUT FOR INVESTIGATION.

AND I WOULD SUGGEST THAT THOSE WHO INITIALLY POINTED THE FINGER AT STEVIE NEED TO TAKE A GOOD LOOK TO THEMSELVES AND QUESTION WHETHER THEIR ACTIONS ONLY SERVED TO GIVE THE COMPANY THE OPPORTUNITY IT HAD BEEN LOOKING FOR TO ATTACK YOUR UNION BY ATTACKING STEPHEN DEANS.

WE ALL KNOW THAT THIS LATEST INVESTIGATION IS A COMPLETE SHAM. THE COMPANY’S TREATMENT OF STEPHEN IS NOTHING SHORT OF A SCANDAL AND YOU SHOULD BE VERY PROUD OF THE WAY IN WHICH YOU HAVE SUPPORTED HIM AND REFUSED TO BE INTIMIDATED. AND I AM SURE YOU WILL CONTINUE TO STAND WITH HIM WHATEVER HAPPENS IN THE DAYS AHEAD, AND I AM SURE WHATEVER THE THREAT; WHATEVER THE ULTIMATUM; WHATEVER THE INTIMIDATION, YOU WILL CONTINUE TO STAND TOGETHER THROUGH YOUR UNION.

I KNOW, WORKING WITH PEOPLE LIKE MARK AND STEVIE AND PAT, HOW COMMITTED THEY ARE TO YOU AND TO THIS SITE AND HOW DETERMINED THEY ARE TO SECURE ITS FUTURE.

AND YOU SHOULD NEVER APOLOGISE FOR THE PAY AND CONDITIONS YOU HAVE OR THAT YOU HAVE A FINAL SALARY PENSION SCHEME.

THESE DIDN'T COME ABOUT BECAUSE OF THE GENEROSITY OF THE EMPLOYER.

THEY WERE HARD WON THROUGH UNION ORGANISATION AND COLLECTIVE BARGAINING. AND WE SHOULD FIGHT TO ENSURE THAT COLLECTIVE BARGAINING REMAINS THE WAY PAY, PENSIONS AND OTHER CONDITIONS ARE DETERMINED.

AND NO ONE SHOULD DOUBT YOUR COMMITMENT TO MAKING THIS PLANT A SUCCESS.

YOU WILL BE HERE LONG AFTER JIM RATCLIFFE HAS DISAPPEARED BACK TO HIS TAX HAVEN IN SWITZERLAND, WITH HIS POCKETS OVERFLOWING WITH THE MONEY HE WILL MAKE IF THE NEW INVESTMENT GOES AHEAD.

BECAUSE THIS SITE HAS A FUTURE – THE ONLY THING THREATENING THAT FUTURE IS JIM RATCLIFFE'S GREED.

AND DON’T LET ANYONE TELL YOU THAT JIM RATCLIFFE IS A RISK TAKING ENTREPRENEUR WHO SHOULD BE ALLOWED TO DO WHAT HE WANTS WITH HIS COMPANY.

HE IS:

HAPPY TO HOLD A GUN TO THE HEAD OF THE WORKFORCE AND THE TAXPAYER.

HAPPY TO TAKE OUR MONEY, TAXPAYERS MONEY, WHILE ACTIVELY AVOIDING PAYING HIS OWN TAXES.

AND HAPPY TO PASS THE RISK OF ANY INVESTMENT ON TO THE SCOTTISH AND UK GOVERNMENTS.

AND IT IS NOT AS IF HE HASN'T DONE IT BEFORE.

HE DID IT AT RUNCORN - BOUGHT THE PLANT; THREATENED TO CLOSE IT IF THE TAXPAYER WOULDN'T BAIL HIM OUT TO THE TUNE OF £50M; GOT THE MONEY AND A FEW YEARS LATER GAVE HIMSELF AND HIS CRONIES A £23M PAYDAY.

I WANT TO END ON THIS POINT. IT IS A TOTALLY UNACCEPTABLE THAT ANY COMPANY CAN ACCUMULATE SO MUCH POWER THAT IT CAN EFFECTIVELY HOLD GOVERNMENT’S TO RANSOM.

THIS PLANT IS OF SUCH STRATEGIC IMPORTANCE TO THE SCOTTISH ECONOMY AND THIS COMMUNITY THAT IT SHOULD NEVER BE ABLE TO BE USED AS A PAWN IN ANYONE'S GAME OF CHICKEN.

I RECOGNISE WHAT THE SCOTTISH AND UK GOVERNMENT’S HAVE DONE ALREADY TO HELP SORT THIS SITUATION.

BUT THEY NEED TO HAVE BOTH THE POWER AND THE WILL TO DO MORE. AND I SAY THIS WITH RESPECT TO POLITICIANS OF ALL PARTIES - THE DEBATE ABOUT SCOTLAND’S CONSTITUTIONAL FUTURE WHICH IS DOMINATING SCOTTISH POLITICS;

THE DEBATE ABOUT WHERE POWER SHOULD LIE AND WHY, IS REALLY NOTHING MORE THAN A SIDESHOW, IF GOVERNMENT, WHEREVER IT SITS, DOES NOT HAVE THE POWER TO PREVENT MULTI- NATIONAL CAPITAL THREATENING THE STABILITY OF A COUNTRY’S ECONOMY.

WHEN THE STABILITY OF THE ECONOMY WAS THREATENED BY THE FAILURE OF RBS AND THE BANK OF SCOTLAND, GOVERNMENT WAS QUICK TO ACT.

NOW WHEN THE STABILITY OF THE SCOTTISH ECONOMY IS THREATENED BY THE INDUSTRIAL BLACKMAIL TACTICS OF INEOS, GOVERNMENT NEEDS TO HAVE THE POWER AND THE WILL TO ACT.

IF INEOS IS NOT WILLING TO INVEST IN THIS PLANT SOME OTHER WAY HAS TO BE FOUND.

BUT THE IMMEDIATE PRIORITY MUST BE A NEGOTIATED SOLUTION. INEOS SHOULD WITHDRAW ITS ULTIMATUM; IT SHOULD FIRE UP THE PLANT; AND GET DOWN TO PROPER NEGOTIATIONS WITH UNITE.

WHILE YOU MUST FOCUS ON YOUR IMMEDIATE SITUATION, IF INEOS PREVAILS HERE, IT WILL HAVE CONSEQUENCES FOR WORKERS ACROSS SCOTLAND.

IF INEOS PREVAILS HERE IT WILL BE OPEN HOUSE FOR OTHER UNION BUSTING EMPLOYERS.

IF INEOS PREVAILS HERE, IT WILL BE OPEN HOUSE FOR OTHER MULTI-NATIONALS TO THROW THEIR WEIGHT ABOUT WITH GOVERNMENT AT THE EXPENSE OF THE TAXPAYER.

THAT IS WHY INEOS CANNOT BE ALLOWED TO PREVAIL AND THAT IS WHY YOU HAVE MY SUPPORT AND THE STUC’S SUPPORT TO ENSURE THAT WILL NOT HAPPEN!

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