Hundreds of workers at Vauxhall’s Ellesmere Port plant on Merseyside walked out unofficially on Friday after they were told of plans to axe 241 jobs.
The latest jobs slaughter follows 400 job cuts last year and another 250 earlier this year.
One worker told the Liverpool Echo newspaper that staff “upped sticks and went” when their shop stewards told them the news. And they said workers were now wondering whether the plant could survive.
The plant produces the successful Astra model, which is exported throughout Europe.
But owners PSA Group says sales are falling.
The workers’ Unite union today said it was demanding “urgent assurances” about the plant’s future and warned against “death by a thousand cuts”.
Unite regional coordinating officer Mick Chalmers said, “Vauxhall’s Ellesmere Port workers have made huge sacrifices and worked hard to ensure the carmaker recently returned to profit for the first time in two decades.”
But bosses don’t show gratitude for past sacrifices. Instead they want to protect and enhance their profits.
Chalmers added, “Further job losses will come as a sickening blow for workers and their families in the run up to Christmas and will further heighten the anger over the uncertainty surrounding the future of the plant.
“Unite will be offering our members maximum support and pressing for guarantees of no compulsory redundancies. Unite will leave no stone unturned in securing the future of the plant and its skilled workforce.”
There needs to be a fight over all job losses, not just compulsory ones, if the run-down of the plant is to be halted.
The cuts aren’t about Brexit, as the long history of previous redundancies shows.
Last year PSA top boss Carlos Tavares cynically demanded that workers in different countries fight each other to secure work. He told Ellesmere Port workers that other plants had proved more willing to accept cuts.
“We need to reduce the total manufacturing costs significantly,” he said. “If you look at the plant in Zaragoza [in Spain], the unions demonstrated a high level of maturity in our negotiations and we agreed a deal to make the Corsa and electric Corsa there.
“Yes, the negotiations were difficult, but that is what it takes.”
This sickening competition has to be rejected.
A jobs fight at Vauxhall could link up with the one that has begun at the Cammell Laird shipyard in Brikenhead. Workers there walked out officially on Friday at the start of an overtime ban.
In a show of unity, staff walked out of the yard at 3pm.
It came ahead of three weeks of rolling strikes beginning on Monday.
The Unite and GMB union members are fighting the company’s announcement that it is slashing 291 jobs—nearly 40 per cent of the workforce—by March 2019.
It’s time to hit the bosses hard and stop job losses.
And if necessary there will have to be occupations and demands for nationalisation rather than let these jobs go.