Socialist Worker

Fight to save Honda jobs needs more than lobbying

by Alan Kenny
Issue No. 2648

Workers march in Swindon last Saturday

Workers march in Swindon last Saturday (Pic: Guy Smallman)


Honda Swindon workers marched last Saturday following the ­announcement that the car producer will close its Wiltshire plant in 2021.

Workers and their families were joined by Unite union delegations from around the country.

They included a group of workers from TS Tech, based outside Swindon at Highworth.

That factory employs up to a ­thousand people manufacturing car seats. All of its production goes to the Honda plant.

There was also a delegation from the BMW plant in Oxford.

The closure threatens 3,500 jobs at the plant itself and many thousands more in supply chain jobs.

But many who joined the delegations felt the demonstration was much too small.

Strategy

Speakers at the rally included Labour shadow business secretary Rebecca Long-Bailey, Unite general secretary Len McCluskey and Unite assistant general secretary Steve Turner.

Despite assurances that Unite won’t let Honda walk away, the platform speakers offered little by way of a strategy to win.

Turner read out a “message of support and solidarity” from Tory business secretary Greg Clark.

But gentle lobbying of Honda bosses by Unite and the Tories won’t save these jobs.

There needs to be a fight. Honda’s business model is based on steadily declining European sales over the last decade. Its plan currently includes closing a plant in Turkey and an ageing plant in Japan.

Unite needs to raise the question of nationalisation—and lead a campaign to fight for it. Workers at the plant should strike over the job losses and look to their counterparts internationally for solidarity.

As Patrick Renard, a rep from Honda Logistics in Ghent, Belgium, told the rally, “I’m also here today because I fear a domino effect across Europe.”

This weekend also marked the ten-year anniversary of the 2009 Visteon occupations which forced improved redundancy packages from motor giant Ford.

An occupation of the Swindon plant calling for nationalisation, with local, national and international ­solidarity could save jobs.


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