IN any industrial dispute or closure there’s a battle of the narrative waged between employers and employees seeking to get their side of the story out. It’s important, as it sets the tone in the press but also with the public.

Sometimes it’s localised and between the opposing sides in the dispute. On other occasions, governments can become involved and the confrontation becomes a national affair.

Memories go back 40 years to the miners’ strike and the abuse of police and laws to close an entire industry and way of life. Now in Scotland the battle is on to save the Grangemouth oil refinery. The number of jobs on the line may be fewer than in the pits all those decades ago but the stakes are just as high.

Lose this and Scotland becomes the only major oil producing nation without refinery capacity, ranking alongside the likes of the Democratic Republic of Congo and Trinidad and Tobago – both of whom produce significantly less oil. It’s also about the further de-industrialisation of Scotland, as jobs losses won’t be restricted to the site and the closure of other factories will follow across a swathe of other sectors. As with mining, it’s not just about the loss of jobs for this generation.

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It is a young workforce there and leaving their native land – not just moving house – will beckon for many. It’s also the site where many learned a trade, even if they now work far from there and perhaps in other industries. Where will future generations learn to become engineers or fitters if Grangemouth shuts? Practical skills are needed, not just college courses, and there must be work available when you’re trained.

That’s why this fight is Scotland’s fight and why the workforce are fighting for much more than just their own jobs. It’s for our industrial base and jobs for future generations.

It’s also why the narrative matters. The truth, not the fiction, is as necessary here as it has been in other disputes. During the miners’ strike, the government said the pits were unprofitable. No, they weren’t.

Some were but not all.

It said alternative work would be located in mining communities. No, it wasn’t, and they remain devastated to this day.

The National: Grangemouth

It said coal use had to end, and a transition be made. No, it didn’t as they simply imported coal from abroad. Closure would have had to happen eventually but it should have been phased and been a just transition.

Which leads us on to the narrative being spun for the closure of Grangemouth refinery. It’s not just being pumped out by Ineos, the owners, but echoed by the UK Government. It is suggested that the plant isn’t profitable and that closure is inevitable.

Cue much hand wringing and soul searching as a stake is to be driven through the community and country’s heart. What can be done, it is just inevitable, is the fiction being portrayed.

Yet the truth, as The National’s sister paper disclosed, is substantial profits are being made. Reporting by The Herald on Sunday showed a £100 million profit for 2022 and last year it was likely even more.

Of course, the site’s hydrocracker, which vastly increases yield and profitability, has been out of order. Sorting that out would eat into the profits but it would be more than covered by what they would make as a company – never mind what the UK Treasury takes in revenues from that firm individually, let alone the collective wealth that is Scottish oil.

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Again, the narrative matters. Both Ineos and the UK Government are suggesting that there is no money or they can’t afford it. Yet that’s simply not true.

The Department of Energy and Net Zero says there’s no funds and there is nothing that can be done about Grangemouth. Meanwhile, the Department for Business and Trade is offering support funds to Ineos for a new plant at Antwerp in Belgium.

The extent of that pledge is into the hundreds of millions, while Grangemouth only requires a fraction of that. The logic according to the business department is that it will support UK jobs in the supply chain – though it is unable to specify just how many, or indeed seem to have taken into account how many will be lost.

It has created the perversity of the UK funding a refinery in Belgium to process Scottish oil, while closing Scotland’s refinery. Ineos, having received money for UK sites, can now walk away but get support for a Belgian one. That’s not what a Brexit bonus was meant to be.

Finally, as with the miners, there’s the yarn of the need to transition. That is as undeniable with oil as it was with coal. But it’s the pace at which it’s done which, then and now, is creating an unjust transition.

The National: Net Zero Secretary Mairi McAllan

It’s environmental lunacy to tranship oil across the oceans for refining and then bring it back for use when there is a facility in the heart of Scotland. There’s no credible environmental argument for closure.

A transition to biofuels is to be welcomed – but that is not happening for several decades and closure is imminent. Scottish Wellbeing Economy, Net Zero and Energy Secretary Mairi McAllan’s (above) call is naive and totally inadequate.

Ensuring the refinery remains in operation is essential to have a site to transition too, as well as the skills needed to work it. It’s why narrative matters in this fight. The truth is that the plant is profitable. The reality is that Scotland’s refinery is to close but the UK Government will be supporting the opening of a new one in Belgium.

It’s time the Scottish Government heeded the facts and defended the workforce and the plant. Supine acceptance of Ineos and UK spin is unacceptable.

Standing up for the workforce and Scotland is what is needed.