Showing posts with label grangemouth ineos. Show all posts
Showing posts with label grangemouth ineos. Show all posts

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Union Smear Dismissed

In case it perhaps have gone un-noticed considering the initial publicity (and the Scotsman has deemed it not worthy of a follow up story)  but the police investigation of thousands of e-mails released to the Sunday Times by INEOS in its smear campaign against Steve Deans, a trade union official,  were found  “there is no evidence of any criminality." in the words of Police Scotland.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Ineos - the Capitalist Black-mailer

Yet again Ian Bell of the Herald appears to be on the bell with his latest article which the following are extracts, as reading The Herald online is now protected by a pay-wall subscription.

“When the Unite union threatened a strike for this weekend, the company asserted that Scotland would be shut down by a reckless action. Yet with the threat averted, Ineos elects to close its site regardless. It, too, has demands.

Ineos would blame trades unionists for that, of course. Ineos always blames trades unionists. The  Swiss-based concern and Jim Ratcliffe, its multi-billionaire (worth upwards of £3 billion in 2010) ,main shareholder and chairman, have no record of embracing unions. Instead, since 1998, Ineos has grown by cutting wages, stripping out pension schemes and altering working practices.

Ineos wants to be rid of a pension scheme it deems "unaffordable". Once again, it wants to pay less in wages. Not for the first time, duress is inherent in each and every company statement. If workers do not comply, a £300 million investment required for "long-term survival" will not be forthcoming.

The union analysis shows a company describing capital expenditure as a loss. This is an unusual, if perfectly legal, accounting practice, to put it no higher. It shows that the deferring of a tax allowance of £117m implies an expectation of a half-billion profit in the years ahead. It shows that the growth in both sales and operating profit could hardly be healthier. But Ineos won't have it: all such views are "naive" and fail to grasp why a conglomerate would shuffle money between its divisions.

What is plain is that, having faced down the possibility of a strike for which it was strangely well-prepared, the footloose multinational is now exerting maximum pressure on its workforce, the politicians and the general population. The charge is that unions, those which once supposedly "held the country to ransom", have nothing on Ineos.

This is industrial relations in the modern style. If employees are a bar to profit, reduce their cost. If politicians quibble, make them aware of how much they depend on the company to keep the public quiet. Grangemouth contains Scotland's only refinery. Until we cure the oil addiction, it could hardly be more important. But it operates on the whim of a billionaire with his headquarters in Switzerland.

Grangemouth workers do well enough, by most standards. Why should they not? Like their colleagues in oil extraction they do hard, essential work on which the country depends, work from which multinationals extract profits vastly greater than any wage bill. Ineos prefers not to regard productive labour in those terms. Workers are the human nuisances in otherwise flawless accounting procedures.

Now, even for decently-paid industrial workers such as the people at Grangemouth, the terms have been altered. The deal is that there is no deal. One million of the young unemployed, and among those younger and a little older, know this far better than the rest of us.

At the heart of it all are the big employers. They've had all the tax breaks, subsidies and helpful legislation they could ever demand. For thanks, they avoid their obligations, reduce their workers to peasants, and treat government as a helpline. These are oligarchs regarding the inhabitants of a democracy as serfs. The question becomes: for how much longer will the serfs tolerate that treatment?”

Friday, October 18, 2013

No "Free" Scotland

Alex Salmond opened the SNP's annual conference with a rousing call for independence – but quickly had to leave for talks that are an illustration of the lack of economic independence Scotland would possess.

Switzerland-based since it moved its HQ in 2010 to reduce its tax bill, after the Labour government refused to allow it to defer payments at the peak of the credit crunch in 2008,  Ineos has put proposals over pay and pensions to workers at the Grangemouth complex, which has 1,400 employees and many more contractors. The proposal includes freezing the basic salary and offering no bonuses until at least the end of 2016. The shift allowance would also be reduced from £10,000 to £7,500 per year, while pensions would be transferred from a final salary to a defined benefits scheme. It has also asked for guarantees that no further strike action will be held by workers. The company has said Grangemouth is "financially distressed" and must reduce costs. The company had told staff they could lose their jobs and be re-employed on poorer terms unless they agreed to the new conditions by 18:00 on Monday. Ineos delivered a  warning that the plant will have to be shut within three years, with heavy job losses, unless the company secures a government loan guarantee and cuts. The union disputes the company's analysis of the financial situation at the plant, and says that the company as a whole is making large profits. Unite  released an analysis of Grangemouth's finances by tax consultant Richard Murphy. He disputed Ineos's claims and said Grangemouth Chemicals – the only accounts he could find – made a profit in 2012 and was expecting £117m of tax gains that could only occur if the company earned £500m over the next few years.  Murphy said total labour costs, including exceptional pension expenses, were 16.9% of revenue and total labour costs "should not be a critical cause for concern".

Pat Rafferty, Unite's 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."”

For the Socialist Party of Great Britain neither geographical boundaries, race, nor creed makes rivals or enemies; for us there are no nations, but only varied masses of workers and friends, whose mutual sympathies are checked or perverted by groups of masters whose interest it is to stir up rivalries and hatreds between the dwellers in different lands.  The Socialist Party embraces all humanity. Socialism, founded the class struggle, has thoroughly killed in our hearts all national sentiment. It is better to be a traitor to your country than a traitor to your class. What matters it to the poor who are starving whether the country in which he or she is hungry is owned by this ruler or that ruler, if his or her miserable status changes not?

What are nationalities or nations? Among peoples there are no nations and nationalities any more, in the sense of a racial community. The Italians are a hybrid people: Romans, Greeks, Germans, Arabs, Celts, Phoenicians (Carthaginians);  so are the Spaniards: Celts, Iberians, Carthaginians (Phoenicians), Romans, Germans; so are the French: Celts, Greeks, Romans, Germans; so are the British: Celts, Romans, Germans; so are the Germans: Celts, Germans, Romans, Slavs.  No one any longer has a fatherland or motherland in the large and heterogeneous modern nations.

The love for the land of our birth is foolish, absurd, and the enemy of progress. We are taught that Britain is the land of the brave, the country of generosity and chivalry, and the refuge of liberty and we all, in the innocence of our hearts, believe it even though the same things are said of their countries by Germans, by the Russians, and the French. Our history  books on every page  reek with race hatred, national vanity and idolatry of the military.

All countries whatever may be the government ideology  with which they are labeled – are composed of two groups of men, one by far the less numerous, the other embracing the immense majority of the people.

The first group is seated at a well-spread table, where nothing is lacking. At the head of the table, at the place of honour, are seated the great financiers. Some are Jews, yes; others are Catholics; others, again, are Protestants, some even atheists. They may be in disagreement on religious or philosophic questions, and even on questions of interest, but, as against the great mass of the people, they work together like thieves at a fair. On their right and on their left are the cabinet ministers, the great officials of all the state services, civil, religious and military, and the gentlemen of the courts of law, judges and lawyers. And then there are the big shareholders of the mines, factories, railways and shipping companies, and the big stores, great squires and great landed proprietors, they are all at that table.

Far from that table are the beasts of burden, condemned to forbidding, dirty, dangerous and mindless toil, without respite or repose, and, above all, without security for the morrow; small tradesmen, confined to their counters 24/7, and more and more crushed out every day by the competition of the big stores; small industrial employers, ground out of existence by the competition of the big factory owners; small-holder farmers, brutalised by long hours of labour, 16 to 18 hours a day, and only working to enrich the big middlemen and the super-markets. Still farther off from the table of the prosperous are the great mass of the proletarians, those who for their whole fortune have only their arms and their brains; working men and women of the factory, exposed to long periods of unemployment; petty officials, clerks, and other employee, obliged to bow their heads and hide their opinions; domestic servants of both sexes, flesh for toil, flesh for cannon, flesh for lust.

Monstrous social inequality, monstrous exploitation of man by man, that is what a country is nowadays, and that is what the workers take off their hats to when the flag is carried by. They seem to say: “Oh, how beautiful is our country! Oh, how free”

The national struggle is harmful to the workers.  Nationalist slogans and goals distract the workers from their specifically proletarian goals. They divide the workers of different nations; they provoke the mutual hostility of the workers and thus destroy the necessary unity of the proletariat. They line up the workers and the bosses shoulder to shoulder in one front, thus obscuring the workers' class consciousness and transforming the workers into the executors of capitalist economic policy. National struggles prevent the assertion of social questions and  condemn the class struggle to sterility. All of this is encouraged by “socialist” propaganda when it presents nationalist slogans to the workers as valid and when it uses the language of nationalism in the description of our socialist goal. The re-establishment of an independent Scotland has no place in socialist propaganda.

The worker has nothing to do with the necessity of competition between the vying bourgeois classes, with their will to constitute a nation. For us, the nation does not mean the privilege of securing a customer base or market positions. Under the rule of capitalism the nation can never be synonymous with a labour monopoly for workers or guaranteed opportunities for work. In the trade union struggle, workers of different nationalities see themselves confronted by the same employer. They must wage their struggle united.The absurdity where the workers in the same workshop are organised in different trade unions and  stand in the way of the common struggle against the employer is obvious. These workers constitute a community of interests; they can only fight and win as a cohesive mass and therefore must be members of a single organisation. The separatists, by introducing the separation of workers by nationalities shatter the power of the workers in the same way.  This is not only true for the workers in one factory but for workers the world over. To all the nationalist slogans and arguments, the response will be: surplus value,  class rule, class struggle. When nationalists speak of the unity of the nation, we will speak of exploitation and class oppression. If they speak of the greatness of the nation, we will speak of the solidarity of the workers of the whole world. The class struggle and propaganda for socialism comprise the sole effective means of breaking the power of nationalism. The  power of nationalism will  be broken not by independence, whose realization does not depend upon us, but  by the strengthening of class consciousness.  Our politics and our agitation can only be directed to awaken class consciousness in workers.