Page last updated at 14:30 GMT, Wednesday, 23 April 2008 15:30 UK

'Workers left with no alternative'

As talks take place on the dispute involving workers from Grangemouth Oil Refinery, the Deputy General Secretary of the Scottish Trades Union Congress, Dave Moxham, said the Unite union's demands were realistic.

The Ineos pensions dispute has generated much comment from the usual sources attacking the hard-won pension rights of trade union members. An appropriate opportunity, therefore, to clarify the trade union view of the current dispute.

Despite suggestions to the contrary, Grangemouth workers earn salaries of 30,000. A figure commensurate with salaries of refinery workers elsewhere in the UK.

Dave Moxham

Final salary pension schemes are not unrealistic - they are what every employer should aim to provide. Why is it unrealistic, in the view of some employers and right wing commentators, that workers should expect a comfortable retirement after a lifetime of hard work?

Furthermore, Ineos is an immensely profitable company. Despite detrimental changes the company has already introduced against the wishes of the members, the final salary pension scheme is completely affordable.

The scheme is still in surplus by 11%, despite the fact that the company has reportedly already taken assets out of it and reduced its contributions.

The company introduced further detrimental changes during the period of consultation, including introducing financial penalties for those who wish to retire early.

Be in no doubt, the Grangemouth workers are striking as a last resort. They are not striking to win a better pensions deal or extract more money from the company, but merely to protect their existing pensions.

We call on the company to reverse its plan to close the final salary pension scheme and avert an avoidable strike

Like you, the Grangemouth workers and their families will be affected by this action and regret the inevitable impact that the strike will have on fuel supplies and people across the country but they have been left with no alternative by Ineos.

The Grangemouth workers have acted responsibly and have worked with the company to ensure the safe shutdown of the plant and to guarantee supply to the emergency services and vulnerable people.

The actions of trade union members are in defence of their pensions.

Their earned pay in retirement, whoever they are, and wherever they work.

Unite is currently in talks with the company and we call on the company to reverse its plan to close the final salary pension scheme and avert an avoidable strike.

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