Mark Lyon, the Unite convenor at Grangemouth gives a frontline account of what happened and why
I made the call to accept the company terms and it was not at all easy. The decision was made by me but with the full endorsement of our Stewards and our members. The decision came at the end of months of combat and the employment of every device known to our branch.
I make no apology to anyone for this decision.
I am the convener for the plant and we have been in conflict with the company since July. There are two issues that have become contaminated, one is the treatment of SD and the other is the assault on terms and conditions.
We balloted for strike and action short of strike on a two question paper and carried the vote easily.
We put on action short of strike and this had an impact but did not move the company
We put in 7 days notice of strike
The company shut the plants down so we were effectively on strike but they said they had budgeted and would keep them down as long as it took.
Given the existing impact we withdrew the strike notice but ran a daylight vigil at the time of the notified strike to catch media etc.
We held a demo on the Sunday of the proposed strike day with hundreds of members and attendance from MPs and STUC etc this went well.
We feel as though our actions moved the press somewhat and a score draw, as you know, would be a victory in these situations.
We went to ACAS for days with no movement gained.
We urged the company to start the plants up and they refused and said they were determined to keep them down .
On the 23rd October they announced that the Chemicals plants would close, the receivers would be called within days, 800 full time jobs and thousands of contractors and suppliers would go, our members pensions to go to the PPF and everything else that goes with it.
It was at this point the call was made to try and save the plants.
It is our judgement that they were prepared to close the site down and our members preferred to keep their jobs and take a hit on terms with the plan to work our way back. We have 1000 members at the site and we met yesterday to begin this process.
Our branch has demonstrated over the years how combative we are but this is not a situation that was winnable in the sense we would have liked.
I appreciate this does not constitute the glorious stand, resulting in the loss of the site, that some would have liked to see but the decision was taken from a position of strength not weakness and again.... I make no apology for protecting my members jobs, living to fight another day and acting from a position of lay member and collective decision making.
The real issues here are around ownership and stewardship of vital national assets and this is where we need to be examining our position.
None of this is easy and we are not used to giving ground as a branch but this is where we are and I am furious with the outcome but content that the right call was made at the time.
Len McCluskey came to Grangemouth to give us support and solidarity. He did that but did not make this decision... we did.
We have been blown away by the understanding and supportive messages from good comrades and we thank you for that.
This is not the end for Branch SC 126 by any stretch but it would have been if we had not made the moves we did.
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