GRANGEMOUTH & A NATION HELD TO RANSOM
Unedited version of Aamer Anwar’s column in Scottish Sun on Sunday 27th October 2013
The future of 800 jobs, 2000 subcontractors, several thousand refinery jobs, the supply of 70% of Scotland’s fuel and Northern England were put on the line by multi-billionaire Jim Ratcliffe’s company INEOS, owners of Grangemouth Refinery.
Whilst everyone from politicians to union leaders pussyfooted about Ratcliffe, the witch hunt of Unite continued accused of being reckless, but what did we expect them to do when a skilled workforce was given just 96 hours to sign up to cuts or be sacked.
Their members weren’t red flag waving Commies, 81% had voted for strike action because they were angered by bully boy tactics of management.
These workers live in a community where Grangemouth is the lifeblood. Ineos claimed the £10 million losses a month justified their demand for freezing of wages, cutting redundancy terms, pensions and bringing in of no strike clauses.
Unite actually called off a 48 hour strike yet Ineos shut down Grangemouth this week until the Union was humiliatingly brought to its knees.
Just imagine the reaction had Unite threatened our Nation’s future in such a manner.
Some still say shutting Grangemouth was the only solution in the age of cheaper foreign imports, aye sure because that really worked with our gas bills.
Despite Ratciffe’s claims Ineos is actually in ‘great financial shape’, it is one of the world’s largest producers of petrochemicals with sales of $43 billion, profits of £2 billion last year, sales up by 50% and head offices located in 5 ‘tax avoiding’ havens of Switzerland, Luxemburg, Jersey, Bermuda and Singapore.
If Grangemouth really was such a loss maker why do Ineos Grangemouth Chemical accounts show them making a profit of £31 million in 2011 and £49 million in 2012?
Why did the net assets of £11 million in 2011 rise to £168 million in 2012? Why did its turnover rise from £191 million to £288 million in 2012?
The Politicians and Unite who brokered a deal knew that when the Government in 2010 refused to let Ineos off a £350 million VAT bill, Ratcliffe simply upped sticks and moved his HQ from the UK to Switzerland.
This time round Ineos has managed to smash a Union and seize £125 million in publicly subsidised loans and a £9 million grant, pretty good for a weeks work.
For once Scottish politicians united in our country’s interest, Alex Salmond should be credited for his intervention and not playing party politics.
When he spoke he did so on behalf of the Nation whilst our Prime Minister simply refused to intervene.
As for all those who claim this had nothing to do with the Independence they should remember the words of Energy Secretary Ed Davey who respected ‘the right of Ineos to shut down Grangemouth’, whilst Cameron ruled out nationalisation of a refinery which accounts for 12% of Scotland’s economy.
It seems that nationalisation was only an option for Westminster when greedy thieving bankers need saved.
Grangemouth should never be held to ransom again by one man and his company.
Ineos’s website claims they ‘care about the health of their workforce…the community, today and tomorrow’– yet as their owner Ratcliffe swanned about the French Riviera in his £130 Million yacht-Hampshire II, he was ready to decimate the lives of Scots for generations to come.
Thankfully jobs are safe for the moment but at what price? The workers know that that Ineos is now free to do whatever it wants in the future.
SPYING ON OUR ALLIES?
When Journalists were accused of hacking into phones the PM ordered a public inquiry, yet this time round Cameron is strangely silent when it comes to the phones of our allies being hacked by the United State’s ‘National Spy Agency’.
For far too long Intelligence Services have used the ‘War on Terror’ to do whatever they want but it has taken the likes of German leader Angela Merkel being hacked (as well as 32 others) to cause an international outcry.
When I last looked Germany was a key ally of the United States and unless I’m seriously wrong Merkel strikes me as an unlikely candidate for connections to Al- Qaeda or even a Swinger’s club.
I suspect Cameron kept his own trap shut because our very GCHQ is up to its neck in dirty tricks with the NSA.
What terrified our leaders about revelations by US spy Ed Snowden and Julian Assange of Wikileaks wasn’t that it was a breach of national security but because it exposed what the intelligence services really do in our name.
Torture and rendition we already knew about but even Cameron knows that people will soon realise that if our spies spent more time chasing the guilty rather than monitoring the activities of hundreds of millions of innocent people, this country might be a much safer place.