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This month has seen our rulers re-introduce the lockout as a weapon against workers. Unite members at Grangemouth oil refinery were blackmailed into accepting a rotten deal when the owner, billionnaire Jim Ratcliffe, put the plant on ‘cold shutdown’ and threatened to close it unless they accepted. Unite leader Len Mclusky capitulated depite the fact that Ineos has invested millions in the plant, making any closure unlikely. Grangemouth should be nationalised – billionnaires such as Jim Ratcliffe should not be able to hold entire communities to ransom. Workers at Grangemouth have enormous potential power if they organise.
Meanwhile in Memphis, USA, Kelloggs workers were also locked out in a dispute over the use of casual workers (http://www.bctgm.org/2013/10/kellogg-locks-out-bctgm-represented-workers/).
However there are signs of hope – the coming week sees University staff striking on Thursday 31 October, Firefighters on Friday 1 November and postal workers on Monday 4 November. It is brilliant news that these workers are striking against the bosses attacks, however, wouldn’t these strikes be much more effective if they were all on the same day? Such co-ordinated action has been discussed several times at TUC conference over the last few years. We need to pile pressure on our union leaders to call such co-ordinated action.
In the cases of both Grangemouth and the upcoming strikes, we can see the need to build rank and file organisation in the workplace in order to act independently of the union leaders if need be. This will not be easy. However, there are no shortcuts and this has to be our main task over the coming months and years. It is possible to build such a network in Britain and has been done many times in the past. The recent victory at Hovis in Wigan shows that militant action can win – we should take those lessons to every workplace.