Workers’ rights and national independence are part of the same struggle

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By Ken Ferguson

Faced with the Neo-Thatcherite assault on workers’ rights at Grangemouth by a shadowy Swiss based oligarch, those of us who also support a Yes vote need to say clearly that this is not the Scotland we seek.

The early indications are that a clear majority of the workers have stuck with their union UNITE and faced down the company’s blackmail.

By Ken Ferguson

Faced with the Neo-Thatcherite assault on workers’ rights at Grangemouth by a shadowy Swiss based oligarch, those of us who also support a Yes vote need to say clearly that this is not the Scotland we seek.

The early indications are that a clear majority of the workers have stuck with their union UNITE and faced down the company’s blackmail.

Westminster governments – Labour, Tory and coalition – have all imposed and kept in place anti-union laws for over 30 years with the result that workers have to face hard nosed employers such as Ineos against a legal framework heavily weighted in favour of the bosses.

Make no mistake the No parties may huff and puff but all favour keeping in place the most draconian anti-union laws in Europe.

The SSP, as a significant player in the Yes campaign, says that those favouring national independence must also take the side of the workers facing a vicious assault on both their conditions and jobs.

An independent Scotland that does not pledge to protect workers’ rights and jobs will make little headway among working class people whose votes are now recognised as key in determining the outcome of the 2014 independence referendum.

In the Grangemouth case this must mean telling Ineos that they cannot expect to receive state aid to develop the plant if they go ahead with the dictatorial imposition of slashing cuts on pay and ultimately jobs.  The company must be told to think again about using this key Scottish industrial asset as a pistol to the head of both workers and government in order to boost their profits.

Ultimately if they persist with their closure threats it must be made clear that the plant will be taken into public ownership to both protect jobs and ensure security of Scottish fuel supplies.

More widely, as privatised power firms launch their annual price rise feeding frenzy, the time is well overdue to take firm action on this public scandal.  Instead of sticking plaster freezes, switching etc it is now time to take these firms back into public ownership.

Such a course would allow planned investment in green power, development of energy saving as a national priority and stop the endless profiteering of the energy fat cats.

If national independence is to mean real change then political freedom must be accompanied by economic democracy, consumer protection and worker’ rights to control the power of money and place people before profit

Such a vision is essential to build a majority Yes vote next year.

Ken Ferguson is a former industrial correspondent and currently edits
Scottish Socialist Voice