Multinationals wreck our lives. It's time to
Ford and the rest are the problem-not refugees
"WE ARE just a number to multinationals like Ford. It's like the slave trade again. We're treated like animals, not human beings. "There's got to be a fight. Otherwise we are facing the death of a community." They are the words of a shop steward at Ford Dagenham. Dagenham and the surrounding area is facing decimation after last week's announcement that car production will end at the plant. This comes just weeks after Birmingham faced the closure of Longbridge. But New Labour is doing nothing about the thousands of jobs axed across manufacturing.
For every one job lost at Ford, another four will be lost in the components industry in the area. "I work with a man who started at the plant in 1996," says another Ford worker. "His mortgage is �620 a month. They're having a baby this year. He can't leave. He doesn't qualify for the redundancy package. What is he supposed to do? Now we've got to have a massive march, like for Rover. And we need support from other plants."
Ford bosses are worried about a fight. Strike action by Dagenham engine plant workers can shut down Ford Europe in EIGHT hours. That's why Ford has promised more investment for the engine plant, hoping to prevent strike action and so divide and rule. But no one should believe the engine plant is safe. Nick Scheele, chairman of Ford Europe, says Ford has broken its promise to Dagenham because "circumstances have changed". Could those "circumstances" not change again? Ford has just given its shareholders payouts of �6 billion. It has a war chest of �12 billion.
This money could be put into saving Dagenham, not closing it. But only a fight will force them. Tony Woodley of the TGWU rightly said last Friday that Ford's announcement was about "corporate greed". He has said the unions will fight it. Tough words must now become tough deeds. Union convenors from every Ford plant will meet soon. They must pledge their solidarity with Dagenham, call a march and back strike action fast.
- THE NORTH east of England also faces disaster if Japanese car maker Nissan goes ahead with its threat last weekend to move production of its Micra car out of Britain. Nissan's plant in Sunderland has been held up as the area's saviour after the slashing of jobs in the pits and shipyards.