I AM an assembly line worker of 30 years standing at the Ford Engine Plant, Dagenham. I have taken part in many struggles for better conditions.
Our present union Joint Works Committee has been secretly discussing a “deal” with the plant management.
The union is supposed to accept speed-ups, ever increasing workloads on individual workers, the abolition of local agreements on the movement of labour and allocation of overtime, etc.
In addition there will be a ban on the shop floor of sit-down jobs, all chairs, tables, food, papers, personal stereos, etc.
Every worker will be expected to demonstrate 100 percent efficiency and, if they will not or cannot (sick, etc), will be put in the “capability” process to get rid of them.
Believe it or not, this has been voted on and recommended for acceptance by the stewards’ committee without ever asking the shop floor workers.
The whole thing has been done in secret, with pressure put on the few stewards who have opposed it and have told their workers.
The plan also includes moves to outsource any area that is below Ford’s 100 percent efficiency “measurements”—160 jobs are immediately threatened with outsourcing in the plant.
The whole security department is to go to Group 4. You must be wondering what wonderful benefits we get out of this deal. Absolutely nothing!
So why have they gone along with it?
Because of a vague promise of a new engine coming to the plant.
There is no immediate threat to our present assembly lines. We have guaranteed work for years to come.
This collapse before demands for management dictatorship (the only role for the stewards in this plan is to help the company implement the deal before they themselves get cast aside) is not the end of the story.
There are new steward elections at the end of August, and there are already signs of a rebellion developing on the shop floor as they hear about what their stewards have done.