This morning’s Scottish media fuelled more flames over the prospect of Scotland being “shut” if Unite the Union members takes strike action at the Grangemouth refinery and petrochemical plant.
It is time for those of us who can, stand side by side with the workers and speak up for the honest soldier of the labour and trade union movement caught in the eye of the maelstrom.
Stevie Deans, Unite Convenor at Ineos is a loyal employee with a quarter of a century of service in the company. I know him to be a committed trade unionist who commands respect, support and solidarity across the workforce, throughout his trade union, Unite and within the Scottish trade union movement. He is someone I respect and admire for his honesty and fair-mindedness and commitment to our movement.
The test of time will reveal those in the leadership of the Labour Party responsible for all of this. Opportunistic false allegations over recruiting members to Labour, led to scape-goating and victimisation of Stevie Deans. Ed Miliband’s over-reaction may yet fatally wound the Labour link. Even Tory Toff David Cameron has been advantaged by wafting the flames of the political explosion inside Labour.
For Stevie, though it is clear, politicians, the national media and ultimately his employer have reverted to type in defending their class interests, and it is to protect our own that the labour and trade union movement must stand in solidarity with Stevie Deans.
That Stevie Deans has been cleared of any wrong doing has not stopped his employer intensifying own investigations against him on spurious grounds that Labour and the police have now dropped.
More sinister is the likelihood that the company has been pre-supposing November strike action since August, seeking to break Unite, reduce workers organisation at the plant, attack pay, pensions and jobs. Suddenly last week, scare stories appeared about the future at Grangemouth, threatened job cuts, pay and pensions cuts and ultimately possible closure by 2017. This is company and an industry that has been thriving since the crash of 2008. Ineos Petrochemicals, Grangemouth far from being on the brink of closure made an operating profit of £49 million last year and over £30 million in 2011.
Stevie Deans commands unanimous support of Unite members at the plant, who have overwhelmingly voted to walk out in his defence, next Sunday (20 October), if management don’t reinstate him. The company had been given two months warning of this before the ballot was held.