A tragic tale of workers racing to the bottom
Over 200 workers at the TRW Automotive plant at Resolven in South Wales are facing the dole after a brutal and cruel piece of blackmail from their bosses.
Determined to protect their profits, TRW bosses conspired to make workers pay the price for the slump in car production.
They told plants across Europe that they would have to bid against each other to see who was prepared to take the biggest wage cuts.
Resolven workers in Wales eventually offered 15 percent—but this wasn’t enough.
Management decided to move production to the company’s factories in eastern Europe—where Resolven workers were sent earlier this year to do training!
It has now been revealed that during the time unions and bosses were in talks, Resolven had already set up duplicate production at the other plants.
This disgusting way of setting workers against one another is happening more and more.
At a government level the Tories try to make private sector workers compete against public sector workers—and against workers from abroad.
At an industry level-managers try to get us to identify with “our” company against others.
At a factory level you are supposed to see a plant in another country as the enemy.
But the only way to survive is for all workers to stand together against the blackmail.
There have been too many closures already in this part of Wales, even before the government’s cuts kick in.
The car components plant at Linamar less than ten miles away is closing too. My mam had told me about this area in the 1980s, when Thatcher broke the miners.
Hardly anyone got a job when they came out of school. Now I’m really scared we’re going back to that era.
We can’t let the bosses who still get their big pay packets and their bonuses do us down.
I hope something can be done at Resolven. I know it’s only one factory, but if we could stop one of these factories closing with a big campaign then perhaps it would give other people a lift and we could get some justice.
TRW is a major company with sales of £7.3 billion last year. It operates in 26 countries. Don’t tell me they need to squeeze workers.
Siân Reynolds, Cardiff
Racism’s new clothes
Jon Fanning says we should defend religious minorities from oppression, but not defend their religious beliefs from ridicule (Letters, 2 October).
The problem is that the oppression religious minorities face frequently takes the form of ridiculing their beliefs.
I’m from a Hindu background. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve been told my religion was “stupid” and that I “worshipped cows”.
The people who said this weren’t supporters of the 18th century philosopher Voltaire—they were just being racist.
The situation with Catholicism is slightly different. But the general principles remain the same.
Whatever the intentions of anti-Pope protesters, the effect of their actions was to repel ordinary working class Catholics—and, ironically, drive them further into the arms of their church.
Anindya Bhattacharyya, East London
Faith leads to division
Simon Basketter is right to challenge those who blame religion for all the world’s ills ( Is religon the cause of the world's ills? , 25 September), but I think it is a mistake not to support atheists’ demonstrations against the Pope.
If the presence of “smug liberals” is a barrier, socialists would have to stop attending protests about climate change, capital punishment, nuclear weapons, and many others.
Religious organisations, encouraged by the government, are currently making a renewed bid to indoctrinate children through so-called “faith” schools.
Quite aside from the nonsense that is sometimes taught there, faith schools are the antithesis of a multicultural society.
They segregate children along religious lines, creating deep‑rooted psychological barriers. As such, they pose a challenge for those, such as socialists, who are seeking to build unity.
Dan Conquer, Woking, Surrey
Gay ‘survey’ is excuse to attack our services
according to the Office for National Statistics just 1.5 percent of Britons are gay.
The research was conducted by telephone and on doorsteps—no surprise then that 35 percent of 18-24 year olds refused to answer!
The figures fall well below previous estimates and bigots will use this to attack charities that help lesbian, bisexual, gay and transgender people (LGBT).
Last year Richard Eddy, the Tory leader of Bristol council, attacked Educational Action Challenging Homophobia, denouncing their National Lottery grant as “an outrageous waste of money”.
The group had been awarded a grant for a project that is reaching out to young people.
The Stonewall School Report 2007 showed 92 percent of LGBT pupils were bullied at school.
This, combined with hostile ideas in society and a lack of support at home, creates an environment where 50 percent of gay adults have contemplated suicide.
Yet the Tories are now slashing so called “undeserving” charities, including Stonewall Housing, the Albert Kennedy Trust, and the London Lesbian and Gay Switchboard.
We may never know the real number of LGBT people in Britain—but these cuts could cost lives.
Nick Jones, Leeds
Tory obsession hits young women
Eating disorders are serious mental illnesses that affect about 1.6 million people. They are particularly prevalent among working class women, and they can be deadly.
Yet Tory cuts are savaging services designed to help sufferers.
Doctors at the Maudsley hospital in London spoke out last week. They said that they are seeing patients only when their condition becomes advanced—meaning that much damage has already been done.
One specialist said this could be because budget-conscious local doctors no longer feel able to refer patients until they are severely ill.
Suffering from an eating disorder is an extremely isolating experience. Seeking help is a huge step and it is essential that sufferers feel they are being taken seriously.
Yet waiting lists are long—and now the situation is getting worse.
Most people cannot afford to attend the expensive private clinics available to the rich.
But the lives of ordinary people mean little to those wielding the axe.
Sarah Creagh, East London
Hot autumn in France
The growing strength of feeling among workers in France can be seen in Beaune, the small town where I live.
Generally, we are considered a bourgeois town, ideal for tourists.
But on May Day 150 people joined the first parade here for 40 years. Then, at the beginning of September, 350 marched over pensions.
Last week, during the general strike, our protest was over 400.
So, to president Sarkozy, I’d say, “Watch out!” If Beaune is moving things are hotting up.
Anne James, France
TUC at heart of the boycott
The motion in support of the Palestinians, passed at TUC congress last month, was even better than you reported (TUC round-up , 25 September).
It instructs the TUC general council to “actively encourage affiliates, employers and pension funds to disinvest and boycott goods of companies who profit from illegal settlements, the occupation and the wall.”
The movement is growing, and the unions have put themselves at the heart of it.
Kiri Tunks, Palestine Solidarity Campaign
Pro-war? Off with their Eds
It was great to finally hear a Labour leader admit that the Iraq War was a mistake—and that it had cost the party dearly.
Ed Milliband knows that the war remains a running sore in his party.
More importantly, the conflict has cost millions of innocent lives, both Iraqi and non-Iraqi.
Those responsible, including the ones who are about to enter the shadow cabinet, have blood on their hands.
If Ed is really serious, he should refuse to accept them.
Could we trust them not to vote for another disastrous war?
Janet, East London
Better off with Labour?
Charlie Kimber argues that because we no longer have a Labour government it will be easier for union leaders to call for strikes ( Union leaders' call is a catalyst for action , 25 September).
I agree, but didn’t Socialist Worker argue that we should vote New Labour at the election because a victory for the Tories would demoralise the working class?
Michael Wayne, South London
You’re wrong, India shines
Why do you choose to join the racist British media’s assault on India’s hosting of the Commonwealth Games (A poisoned chalice, 2 October)?
For generations the imperialists tried to belittle our country.
They told us that we were too infantile to run our own affairs.
Now those same slurs are being repeated by those who are frightened by our growing economy and our increasingly capable military.
That India is no longer Britain’s colonial possession is a fact that Socialist Worker ought to celebrate—not one that it should decry.
Rohan Nakkady, Cochin, India
Police hit wrong target
A “Fashmob” demo by the racist English Defence League (EDL) in Nuneaton, Warwickshire, last week was designed to coincide with a homecoming parade by Gurkha soldiers.
The police vowed to take a firm line, and said they would draft in extra officers.
However, when I arrived to help protest against the racists, the police seemed to be ignoring the EDL—despite the threatening atmosphere they were creating.
There was, however, heavy policing of the local Asian community that had turned up to oppose the racists—they were treated like criminals.
Kelvin Williams, East London