Strike action risks a public backlash

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The bitter industrial dispute at the Grangemouth oil refinery continues and the union Unite has taken out a full-page advertisement in your sister paper, Scotland on Sunday, accusing Ineos of “waging a campaign of fear” (your report 19 October). This is designed to get public sympathy.

I find it strange that very few newspapers, or indeed the BBC, have not published details of the generous wages and the unsustainable employers’ pension contributions. It was reported that a typical operator is earning about £55,000 basic salary plus shift allowances. In addition, Ineos pays £30,000 into each employee’s pension pot. The staff retirement scheme has fallen into a 
£200 million black hole and Ineos has made operating losses of £150m a year for the past four years.

The average salary in Scotland is only £26,000, so if Unite is trying to get public sympathy with its expensive advert, it might have to wait for a very long time.

Clark Cross

Linlithgow, West Lothian

Workers earning £40,000 to £50,000 a year in a failing plant losing £150 million a year based in an unemployment black spot are asked to agree to a three-year rescue package.

Like millions of private sector workers across the world, they face pay freezes, overtime cuts and restructuring of a debt-laden, overly-generous pension scheme.

If this was the United States, the men and their union would accept the deal and make a flat-out effort to turn things round to at least keep their jobs and hopes for a better tomorrow.

Sadly, it is Scotland and instead of a pragmatic US union, Unite is a politicised – mainly public-sector – union with a tenuous grip on the reality of international business. The unions apparently believe Grangemouth cannot close, but then they believed the same about Ravenscraig, Bathgate, Linwood, Timex, ship-building, mining …

Dr John Cameron

St Andrews, Fife

We MUST thank Alf Young for revealing “the Chinese dimension of the Grangemouth saga”, (Perspective, 
19 October). But isn’t global capitalism a topsy-turvy world of conflicting values and the realpolitik of interests?

Seemingly, one realistic outcome of the dispute could be that the “bulk of Scotland’s petrol supplies” will be state controlled. Not the British or a Scottish state, but a Communist authoritarian one diametrically at odds with the values of liberal democracy.

Hence important as “strategic and security interests” are for a possibly independent Scotland, they aren’t the only issue. Arguably for a country seeking self-determination Scotland should be in the forefront of raising China’s record on. for instance, the political independence of Tibet.

Ellis Thorpe

Inverurie, Aberdeenshire

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