Belabored: Wildcat Oil Strikes and the Energy Crisis, with Ewan Gibbs

Belabored: Wildcat Oil Strikes and the Energy Crisis, with Ewan Gibbs

In Scotland, Grangemouth oil refinery workers are just the latest to realize their power after two years of pandemic, when they were deemed essential—and watched industry profits spike—while they accepted pay freezes.

A worker scales down one of the towers at Grangemouth oil refinery on October 24, 2013. (Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

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Belabored

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Last week, workers at the Grangemouth oil refinery in Scotland walked off the job in a wildcat strike over pay. These subcontracted workers, as well as others at oil industry sites around Britain, are just the latest critical infrastructure workers to realize their power after two years of pandemic, when they were deemed essential—and watched industry profits spike—while they accepted pay freezes. This is all happening against a backdrop of swelling anger across Britain as prices, particularly energy prices, spike and are predicted to go even higher this winter. Unions are calling strikes and organizing protests with community groups to demand action. Ewan Gibbs, a historian of energy, industry, work, and protest, a lecturer in global inequalities at the University of Glasgow, and the author of Coal Country: The Meaning and Memory of Deindustrialization in Postwar Scotland, joins the podcast to talk about the strikes, the history of energy workers’ organizing, new organizing, and renationalizing energy.

We also look at the launch of the Enough is Enough campaign, the return of rail strikes across Britain, the ongoing union drives at Starbucks with Starbucks union activists Ben South and Stephanie Heslop, a new bill in California that could move fast food workers toward sectoral bargaining, and wildcat strikes at Amazon. For Argh, we consider the rise of workplace productivity surveillance, and the labor of the crossword-puzzle industry.

Thank you for listening to our 253rd episode! If you like the show, you can support us on Patreon with a monthly contribution, at the level that best suits you.

If you’re interested in advertising on the show, please email ads@dissentmagazine.org. And as always, if you have any questions, comments, or tips, email us at belabored@dissentmagazine.org


News

Evie Breese, Amazon wildcat strikes enter second week as UK workers protest over pay, Big Issue

Simon Childs & Polly Smythe, Hundreds of Amazon Workers Stage Wildcat Strike Over ‘Kick in the Teeth’ Pay OfferNovara Media

London bus drivers set to strike on same days as Underground and rail workers, ITV

India Lawrence, Everything you need to know about the tube strike in AugustTimeOut

Megan Camponovo, Fast food workers demand FAST recovery act passage at state capitol, FOX40

Benjamin Sachs, California’s FAST Act: A Promising Move Toward Sectoral RegulationOnLabor

Danielle Wiener-Bronner, Starbucks asks labor board to halt mail-in union ballots, CNN

Abraham Kenmore, Augusta Starbucks union organizer fired for ‘March on Boss’ prior to strikeAugusta Chronicle

Jake Johnson, Store Walkout Over Firing of Starbucks Union Organizer Racks Up 20 Million Views on TikTokCommon Dreams

Itzel Luna, Two more California Starbucks stores go on strike, joining Santa Cruz workers at the picket lineLos Angeles Times


Conversation

Ewan Gibbs, University of Glasgow

@EwanGibbs on Twitter

Simon Childs, Workers Stage Wildcat Strike at Major Oil RefineryNovara Media

Joanna Partridge, Workers block road at Ineos Grangemouth oil refinery in pay disputeGuardian

Andrew Fisher, What nationalising energy companies would cost – and how to do itopenDemocracy

Enough is Enough campaign


Argh, I wish I’d written that!

Sarah: Jodi Kantor and Arya Sundaram, The Rise of the Worker Productivity Score, New York Times

Michelle: Matt Hartman, Inside the Elite, Underpaid, and Weird World of Crossword Writers, The New Republic


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