Sunday, 11 May 2008

Ineos pensions win?

If press reports are to be believed, UNITE members at the Ineos oil refinery at Grangemouth have been successful in defending their final salary pension scheme through industrial action. By protecting the pensions of future employees, they have made their own pensions more secure.

There is something of a pattern developing here. Remember the threatened strike at the British Airport Authority a few months ago?

Union official channels are often cautious about broadcasting successes, for fear of making it harder for employers to climb down. That doesn't mean the rest of us should fail to draw the lessons.

It would be too easy to look at the huge power BAA or Ineos workers have and think they're different to the rest of us. But the reality is that most groups of workers have great power if they act collectively - it's just not always so obvious. Think about some of the lowest paid workers in the country, such as supermarket checkout staff, and think about the impact if they took united action. The problem is not usually that workers don't have power, it's that workers don't realise their power.

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