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Ineos must be brought to heel

No-one can trust figures issued by Ineos because its accounts are mired in 'contrived obscurity'

No British or Scottish politicians worth their salt can accept the right of a bully-boy management to close a vital enterprise because the workforce refuses to accept his ultimatum.

Energy Secretary Ed Davey respects the "right" of Ineos to shut down petrochemicals operations at Grangemouth, emphasising this government's subservience to energy transnationals.

There can be no respect for swaggering billionaire Jim Ratcliffe who has no compunction about destroying the livelihoods of thousands of people because they won't lie down and roll over.

Ratcliffe claims that Grangemouth is losing £100 million a month, making it a financial dead duck.

But no-one can trust figures issued by Ineos because its accounts are mired in "contrived obscurity," as Unite Scottish secretary Pat Rafferty puts it.

The usual amalgam of creative accounting and internal company transfers to tax havens can produce whatever results a company wishes to deliver.

This corporate jiggery-pokery has ensured that Ineos has paid no tax in Britain for four years despite sales growing 50 per cent last year, gross profits rising by 20 per cent and operating profits by 56 per cent.

The petrochemicals wing of Ineos could and should have a rosy future, but Ratcliffe is treating this critical enterprise as a pawn in his game of Russian roulette in which it is the workers at Grangemouth, subcontractors and the wider community who have a gun to their heads.

Politicians of various parties, including Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond, have urged an urgent resumption of company-union negotiations.

This is fair enough provided that Ineos is prepared to bargain in good faith rather than sit at the table with a huge plant-closure hammer behind its back demanding total surrender by the trade unions.

Trade unionists should not be browbeaten into offering what Ratcliffe has demanded on a plate as though a pay freeze, lower pensions and a built-in no-strike formula would usher in a golden age.

Ratcliffe, like all arrogant employers, would be encouraged by signs of weakness to demand yet more workers' sacrifices to further maximise his company's profits.

As Scottish TUC general secretary Grahame Smith has it, this "feral private equity concern ... clearly believes it has no social obligations whatsoever."

Prime Minister David Cameron has already shown his hand by ruling out both nationalisation of Grangemouth and a financial bailout.

Clearly Cameron, as a devoted servant of the City, believes that bailouts should be reserved for a parasitic and speculative banking sector rather than for a vital element of the productive economy.

Grangemouth accounts for around 12 per cent of the Scottish national economy. How can that site be allowed to close?

Labour MP Katy Clark's clarion call for Grangemouth to be taken into public ownership to "ensure the country is not held to ransom in this way" ought to be echoed across the political spectrum.

Crocodile tears shed for the plight of sacked workers count for nothing without backing for the one means of safeguarding jobs and guaranteeing ongoing prosperity in the Grangemouth area.

International Transport Workers Federation president Paddy Crumlin is right to view the Ineos announcement as an attack on "communities and the Scottish economy too," as well as on trade unions and workers.

The labour movement and its political representatives should nail their colours to the Grangemouth mast and let tax-dodger Ratcliffe know that his blackmail will not be allowed to triumph.


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