Socialist Worker

Reject Ford offer

Issue No. 1673

BOSSES AT Ford motors have been forced to improve their pay and conditions offer to 28,000 workers across Britain. Union leaders hailed the agreement as 'inflation busting' and are reccommending that workers accept the package. But Ford workers should reject the new offer.

Ford's opening offer was a lousy 2 percent pay rise with loads of strings attached. There was a clear mood to throw out that rubbish - a mood not lost on Ford bosses at last week's pay talks. Ford upped its pay offer to 4 percent for this year. That would be followed by 3.25 percent or inflation plus half a percent next year. In the third year of the deal Ford is offering a 3.5 percent rise or inflation plus 1 percent. The company is also offering a one and a half hour cut in the working week - unions were asking for a two hour cut.

Ford has dropped talk of corridor or annualised hours, though many workers think they were not serious about this in the first place. It has also dropped plans to weaken the Joint Works Committees that exist in every plant. But there are still big strings attached to the deal. Ford wants:

  • Increases in productivity to pay for the cut in the working week. 'They want the right to re-time everybody's job and speed up work. It is totally unacceptable,' says one Ford shop steward. It means more harassment and bullying from the foremen - precisely the issue that is provoking fury in the PTA at Dagenham. A Ford spokesman boasted on Monday that the company was 'confident' that the cost of the cut in hours would be offset by 'further efficiencies'.

  • Temporary workers. 'We don't want workers on temporary, short term contracts,' says another Ford worker. 'We want proper full time jobs with security of employment. They want workers who will toe the line because they are in fear of being sacked.'

  • New shift patterns, to be negotiated at a local level. Workers also do not like having a three year deal foisted upon them. Mass meetings were planned at Ford plants across the country to discuss the deal. Ford workers should throw it out.

    The walkouts at Southampton, Halewood and Dagenham have shown that workers have had enough of years of low pay and long hours while Ford bosses get the benefit of soaring productivity. There is the potential to win more pay and the full two hour cut in the working week without strings. 'The whole point of a shorter working week is to make workers' lives easier,' says a Dagenham worker. 'The point is not to make you run faster like a hamster on a treadmill in order to get it.'

    Another worker says, 'I don't think the pay offer is that good either. We are the lowest paid workers in the motor industry and some of the lowest paid Ford workers in Europe.' If Ford workers were to win a cut in the working week without strings, it would be a brilliant example for millions of other workers to follow.

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    Article information

    Sat 20 Nov 1999, 00:00 GMT
    Issue No. 1673
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