Monday, 28 April 2008

Fuel and penions

With a petrol tank on my bike the size of a thimble I have my own mini fuel crisis quite regularly. So I filled up a jerry can at the local petrol station for my own emergency supply ‘just in case’.

I then felt kind of guilty about it – like I was a victim of the hysteria that seems to take grip at the mention of ‘fuel strikes’. Contrary to the predictions we haven’t yet seen the breakdown of western civilisation because of the two-day strike of oil workers at the Grangemouth refinery.

This hysteria seems to blind many people to the perfectly reasonable position of the Ineos workers. Think of the issues at stake:

• Big companies expected to take care of their former employees after a lifetime of service with a full salary pension? Outrageous and outdated.

• Thinking that a company making profits in excess of £50million per day, with a chief executive worth £1.3 billion, should be able to afford such a scheme? Ludicrous and unreasonable.

• Workers who work 12hour shifts 365 days a year having a basic wage of £30k pa – rising with overtime to £40k? Over-privileged and outrageous.

• Unions taking limited strike action after prolonged negotiations have broken down? Selfish and irresponsible.

The pension issue is a time bomb for most of us. A whole generation now faces insecurity at the end of their working lives that was unkown to our parents and grandparents. Many have had to come to terms with this and suffer the lesser of two evils with private pensions. Some of us who work in the small business sector have always had to accept it. In the oil industry there is a group of workers who may just be able to use their industrial clout to defend what so many others have lost.

Good luck to them, even if it does mean a bit of inconvenience for motorists (and bikers).

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