Socialist Worker

Were the workers led by donkeys?

Issue No. 2150

Workers at Visteon have won a major victory in spite of their national union, Unite.

Unite is the biggest union in Britain. It was in an unrivalled position to build a campaign to save jobs at Visteon.

But it failed to do so and at crucial times pushed a strategy that weakened the fight.

“We need to expose the officials,” Raymond Dixon, a former shop steward at Visteon, told Socialist Worker. “It’s no good having a union that only pretends to work for you.

“This dispute could have been won or lost depending on the action of national officials. But they didn’t give any leadership.”

Visteon workers in Enfield left their occupation on the advice of their national Unite officials, who told them they would face jail if they stayed.

“They told us what we couldn’t do, but not what we could do,” said Raymond. “They didn’t work on our behalf and now they’re trying to take all the glory for the deal.”

Evangelou Evangelos, who has worked for Ford for 20 years, agrees. “The union is saying that it won,” he said.

“The local union did a good job. But the national union officials are so high up that they don’t feel the pain like ordinary people do.”

Unite could have led action to shut down every Ford plant in Britain which would have cost the firm billions and forced it to respond. It didn’t.

But ordinary workers showed fantastic initiative throughout the struggle and proved what is possible in spite of the bureaucracy.

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