Dock workers have forced bosses at Grangemouth docks in Scotland to back down.The Unite union has suspended a two-week strike for new talks over the imposition of new working conditions.
Workers effectively picketed out the port. Last night strikers acted quickly to set up a second picket after a new road began to be used to get container trucks out of the port. Strikers described the move as a “game changer”.
All of a sudden Scotland’s biggest fuel terminal was trapped behind a picket line and tanker drivers refused to cross it. The pressure on bosses became too much.
Rumours of petrol shortages abound as Scotland’s second biggestfuel terminal was already behind another picket at a different gate. Only one other terminal in Clydebank near Glasgow, the country’s smallest, could get fuel out and it was running out fast.
Docker Winston told Socialist Worker, “Forth Ports were telling people that just 50 percent of us would strike and it would be all over soon. But every single one of us walked out.
“We’ve shown they can’t do anything without us - after just four days they’ve buckled.”
Forth Ports wanted to impose new shift patterns that would see dockers working every other weekend. But the dockers were solid and showed imposition can be beaten.
“We’re not bowing down to whatever they want us to do,” said Arthur, another Grangemouth dock worker.
“They say the changes to our conditions ‘are all about the customer’. But I bet their customers are still paying top dollar and Forth Ports don’t want to pay us a premium rate.”
The union announced that fresh talks are to take place from Monday. Some questioned whether it was a good strategy to suspend the strike. But there’s no denying bosses have been given a bloody nose and the dockers’ confidence has grown.
One source close to the talks told Socialist Worker, “What happened with Ineos and Unite was a blow. But the Grangemouth dockers and tanker drivers have shown that it wasn’t a fatal blow.”
Workers know they may have to come out again and bosses could renew their attack. But the bosses’ retreat has shown how trade unions can work together to beat them back.
Winston said, “The tanker drivers have been tremendous and we couldn’t have got here without them. The next time they are out we’ll be with them.”