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:
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.