Workers at Vauxhall motors were to strike on Thursday of this week. They planned to hit back at General Motors, one of the world's biggest corporations. GM wants to close down its Vauxhall motors plant in Luton and sack 2,000 workers.
TGWU members at Luton were to strike, as were workers at Vauxhall's Ellesmere Port plant on Merseyside. 'It is right to strike in solidarity,' says an Ellesmere Port worker. 'Big companies like to encourage the myth that we are all separate entities. But we have one employer who bullies all of us and we should all fight together.' AEEU members were pledging they would not cross Thursday's picket lines. That would be a brilliant display of unity. AEEU members voted for action short of a strike, but against strike action.
The strike is an excellent step froward. It is the way to hit back at the company. Luton workers were disgusted last week when the company announced that 1,000 of them are to be laid off for six weeks from Monday. After those six weeks the workers will take either redundancy or a transfer to IBC-the General Motors truck plant alongside the Vauxhall plant in Luton. 'People were really gutted on Friday,' says a worker. 'Some people were near to tears because of the lay offs. People were leaving work who you've been working with for years and you knew you weren't going to see them again. In April we will all lose our shift allowance payments. That will hurt people financially. The company is tightening the reins, hoping people will take the money and run. It is really playing hardball.'
This week's strike was announced by union officials at mass meetings in Luton last week. 'But there is confusion about what we are fighting for,' says another worker. 'We were told, 'Go to IBC, take the money if you want, but make sure you support the strike.' That's not good enough. The union should be saying, 'We will save the plant'.'
Last month thousands of GM workers across Europe joined a day of action against the company's job slashing. Some 10,000 workers and supporters marched through Luton to save the plant. This potential must not be thrown away.