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Solidarity boosts impact of Grangemouth strike

by Drew McEwan

Forty two BP tanker drivers struck last weekend at the Grangemouth oil refinery near Glasgow.

They walked out for three days from 4am on Friday, and were set to start another four-day strike from Thursday of this week. In between they are working to rule.

The drivers are members of the Unite union. The 15 of them who work on aviation fuel are set to see their jobs outsourced to a new employer, DHL.

This brings an attack on their final salary pension scheme and the threat of work being given to drivers on short term contracts.

Pickets told Socialist Worker this was the thin end of the wedge, as they had seen Shell drivers take cuts to their pay and conditions after their jobs were outsourced.

The strike was solid, with rotating 24 hour cover.

By 8am on Friday normally 80 tankers would have gone in to pick up fuel.

But only four got past the picket line—and support from workers inside the plant meant even these went away empty.

BP sends petrol and aviation fuel from Grangemouth across Scotland as well as to Northern Ireland and parts of the north of England.

Strikes here can cause massive disruption.

Drivers say bosses stand to lose between £4 million and £5 million for every strike day, especially as the dispute goes on and the flow backs up.

The confidence of workers on the picket line was obvious.

“We’re in this together,” said one picket.

“They’re just testing the water here”, said another.

“It’s only the 15 of us on aviation fuel that are affected so far,” he went on.

“The petrol workers know that they’re going to be next.

“But we can win this because we’ve got the support of the Unite members who work inside the plant. They are effectively turning off the taps in there and backing up the flow of petrol.

“We reckon that it will only take a few days to stop the rigs in the North Sea pumping fuel into the system.”


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Tue 26 Feb 2013, 16:52 GMT
Issue No. 2342
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