Grangemouth strike

Falkirk East MSP Cathy Peattie has challenged MSPs to support the Grangemouth workers in the fight to protect their pensions.

Her motion in the Scottish Parliament has so far attracted support from 24 Labour and 2 SNP MSPs. She also asked First Minister Alex Salmond and Cabinet Secretary John Swinney to give their support.

Commenting on the responses she received in the Chamber, Cathy said that “there could have been more recognition of the efforts made by the workforce. Offering to bring in the Faculty of Actuaries is not helpful unless the company back down from unilateral imposition of the new scheme, in which case the workforce are happy to get back round the table anyway. I’m also surprised that they don’t appear to be concerned that Ineos have singled out Grangemouth for this confrontation.”

First Minister’s Questions

Cathy Peattie (Falkirk East) (Lab): Given the fact that the BP/Ineos workforce has always shown great commitment to the future of Grangemouth and the fact that there has not been a strike for 70 years, will the First Minister join me in supporting the 1,200 workers who, despite their reluctance, have voted by an overwhelming majority to take action to safeguard the pensions of future employees in the face of a company that has singled out the site and is aggressively pursuing confrontation? I spoke to the trade union that is involved in the ACAS discussions this morning. It is the company that keeps refusing to discuss matters. Will the First Minister stand up for Scotland and for the workers of Grangemouth?

The First Minister: I have spoken to the union and its representatives on several occasions this week. They were pleased with and supportive of the Scottish Government’s offer of the services of the president of the Faculty of Actuaries to assist with conciliation in order to take some of the heat out of the dispute and to introduce the opportunity for substantive discussions. Making such offers is the responsible way for a Government to behave. We could all list a range of press statements, assumed writs, attacks and things that appear extraordinary that have exacerbated the situation. We, as politicians, should be trying to get an honourable settlement and to ensure that the Scottish economy can work effectively and as normal.

Cabinet Secretary’s Statement

Cathy Peattie (Falkirk East) (Lab): INEOS has singled out workers at Grangemouth with this attack on their pension rights. I do not want the workers at Runcorn and elsewhere to get the same treatment. Does the minister agree that Grangemouth workers have, grossly unfairly and against their wishes, been pushed into the front line of a wider battle in defence of pension rights? Will the Government stand up for Scottish workers and ensure that they have the same pension rights as English workers in the same company?

John Swinney: As my colleagues in the United Kingdom Labour Government acknowledge, this is a private dispute between INEOS and Unite. It is for those two parties to resolve their pensions issues. The Government has-[Interruption.]

The Presiding Officer: Order.

John Swinney: The Government has offered constructive intervention to try to bring the parties together by arranging for the president of the Faculty of Actuaries, one of Scotland’s most distinguished pensions experts, to provide advice to try to resolve some of the issues. The trade unions and the management are best placed to resolve those issues through negotiation and dialogue.

The motion

S3M-01760# Cathy Peattie (Falkirk East) (Scottish Labour): INEOS Reduction in Workforce Pensions

That the Parliament notes the proposal by INEOS to reduce the pension rights of the workforce at the former BP oil refinery and chemicals complex at Grangemouth from those which had been part of the terms and conditions of employment of the workforce when INEOS bought the BP site; further notes that the INEOS proposal is to create a two-tier workforce with all new employees being denied a final salary pension and resulted in 97% of trade union members in an 86% ballot return voting for strike action after exhaustive negotiations; expresses concern at the aggressive tactics of INEOS senior management in undermining the agreed consultative processes, and supports the efforts of the INEOS workforce and its trade union, Unite, to sustain existing pension arrangements on this very profitable complex for the benefit of all current and future employees.

Supported by: Karen Whitefield, Bill Butler, Hugh Henry, David Stewart, James Kelly, Cathie Craigie, John Park, Marilyn Livingstone, Pauline McNeill, Marlyn Glen, Elaine Smith, Jackie Baillie, David Whitton, Trish Godman, Jamie Hepburn, Patricia Ferguson, Helen Eadie, Malcolm Chisholm, Karen Gillon, Duncan McNeil, Charlie Gordon, Mary Mulligan, Michael McMahon, Iain Gray, Christina McKelvie, Ken Macintosh

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