SCOTLAND has a proud history of industrial struggles. Some were won, many were lost but they all played a role in the politicisation of our land and people.

Some were for improvement in working conditions, some for wider struggles and others for the preservation of jobs and even entire industries. Now, once again, factories and entire sectors of our economy are threatened.

It’s why support for workforces whether at Ferguson Marine, the Grangemouth oil refinery or other sites is vital. Their struggle is ours, as much as the miners’ strike was 40 years ago.

These struggles go back centuries not decades. The 1820 Radical Rising was, as the great Tom Johnston wrote, in his History of the Working Classes in Scotland, a general strike from which it was hoped a revolution might spring. The west of Scotland was almost entirely out, as were other areas. It was as much about the rights of working people as about working conditions.

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In 1919, Red Clydeside saw the yards and factories shut down, with troops and even tanks brought in to Glasgow. That was a strike for a 42-hour week. As demobilisation was occurring following the end of the First World War, unemployment beckoned for many.

Reducing the hours worked increased the jobs available. This wasn’t about conditions of employment but about avoiding the immiseration of vast numbers of people being out of work.

The 1970s brought the Upper Clyde Shipbuilders occupation, which was for the right to work and to prevent entire communities from becoming marginalised. The next decade saw the heroes of Lee Jeans and Plessey along with other valiant efforts to stop factory closures.

All would soon be overtaken by the miners’ titanic struggle. That wasn’t for pay but for jobs. There was no denial that the work had to change and new skills and trades found. But it had to be phased to avoid the suffering that was eventually inflicted by Thatcher with all the power the state could muster.

In every one of those struggles, ordinary people rallied to the cause giving unstinting support. All left a huge political legacy which lingers to this day. Individuals, communities and the country were inspired and those who inflicted it rightly paid a price. Thatcher has never been forgiven and the memory of strikes and their leaders remains to this day.

But the need has returned as our industry and communities are once again threatened. It’s simply not good enough for politicians to say it’s just the way it is or it is all rather sad and just to wring their hands. It’s also unacceptable for governments and councils to walk away and say there’s nothing they can do. Instead, it’s incumbent upon them to support the workforces in all efforts to stop closures, protect jobs and retain industrial capacity in our country.

It simply shouldn’t be this way and our nation cannot stand back as core sectors of our economy are closed, our land is de-industrialised and workers and future generations are flung on the scrap heap. The plight of former mining communities across Scotland testifies to what can happen when work is cruelly removed and the social ills that enter into the void.

The Grangemouth refinery is profitable. Not as much as it should be but that’s been due to historic under-investment and the failure of management to restart the hydrocracker which would increase profitability threefold. That needs done, as does refining the oil from the Forties pipeline which lands there. The refinery’s closure would devastate the Forth Valley and lay waste to numerous other sectors of industrial Scotland.

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Across the country on the Clyde, Ferguson Marine stands threatened. The last shipbuilder still operating on the Lower Clyde, it is synonymous with Port Glasgow and its loss would cripple an already blighted town. As with an oil producing nation lacking a refinery capacity, it’s simply absurd that an island nation with numerous smaller isles and archipelagos should also see its ferry construction capacity obliterated.

In both cases, skills would be lost and apprenticeships would no longer be available for future generations, when these sites have been the industrial education and route into work for tens thousands of people over the years. It’s why these threatened closures affect us all. It’s the de-industrialisation of our land and it’s why they need to be opposed.

Ferguson Marine must be given the contract for the seven Small Isles ferries. Work for the yard is drying up and the order needs issued and fast. Sending the order in whole or in part to yards outwith Scotland would be a crime against our history, economy and society. Our fragile communities need the service and our industrial communities the work.

The workforce at Grangemouth is gearing up for a fight supported by Unite the Union. The UK has made billions from North Sea oil. It’s small change to fund restarting of the hydrocracker and insisting on the refining of oil from the Forties pipeline in Scotland. It’s economic and environmental madness to devastate a community and then to ship oil in and out by tanker.

A Just Transition has been promised and this is unjust. It’s a closure, not a transition. The Scottish Government must give its full support to the workforce, the union and the community in their struggle.

And it’s time for all Scots to get behind the campaign as was done in past disputes. Their struggle is our struggle, as were those in days gone by. This is about preserving our nation’s industrial capacity.