Socialist Worker

Attacks on car workers jobs - where’s the response?

Issue No. 2171

The ongoing crisis in the car industry saw Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) announce plans last week to shut either its Solihull or Castle Bromwich sites in the Midlands.

The threat of closure comes less than a year after thousands of workers had agreed a pay freeze and a four-day week.

Dave Osborne from the Unite union said, “Earlier this year, this company and our union agreed a framework agreement intended to support JLR through this tough economic period.

“Our members said then that JLR could not be trusted to uphold that agreement. Today, that has proved to be true.

“Like Oliver Twist, they are coming back for more.

Incompetence

“Unite’s members will not be paying for management’s incompetence and we will not stand by while those responsible continue to wreak havoc on this business.”

Bert Hill, regional officer of the GMB union, said, “GMB will be opposing everything we have heard so far. We will fight the company on this – of that I have no doubt.”

While the business secretary Lord Mandelson announced the extension of the government’s car scrappage scheme he also backed the bosses’ proposals, saying, “It is inevitable that we will see further restructuring across the industry.

“I welcome the fact that JLR has already implemented a number of proposals to improve its long-term prospects.”

Protests

The pattern is repeated across the car industry. Jobs at General Motors (GM) in Ellesmere Port and Luton are also again under threat.

Multinational firm Magna is due to buy 55 percent of GM’s European operations.

It plans to close down the firm’s Belgian plant and cut about a third of staff in both Britain and Spain.

Workers and unions have organised strikes and protests against the closures across mainland Europe.

In Britain, in contrast, angry rhetoric from union leaders has not been matched by any sign of protest or attempts to call action.

Gordon Brown toured the Ellesmere Port factory ahead of his speech to the TUC two weeks ago. He said, “We are putting our faith in the future of Ellesmere Port. We are putting our faith in the future of the new model [Vauxhall] Astra that is about to appear.”

At the Labour Party conference this week GM had a stall showing off the new car. But, it will take more than product placement and faith to save car workers’ jobs – it will take a fight.


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News
Tue 29 Sep 2009, 18:27 BST
Issue No. 2171
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