LAND ROVER workers are due to hold their second one-day strike on Monday of next week in protest at the company's pay offer and the strings attached to it. The 8,000 workers at Solihull and those at Gaydon in Warwickshire are taking on Ford, a multinational with a reputation for ruthlessly exploiting workers. That's why other car workers are hoping the Land Rover strikers get a victory.
'In the Midlands area the car industry has got smaller and smaller. The Land Rover strikes prove car workers are not going to accept being pushed around any longer,' a worker at MG Rover in Longbridge told Socialist Worker.
'Ford is making a lot of money and it's great to see workers fighting back. Things have been a bit down at Longbridge recently but people look at Land Rover and it helps to build their hopes up a bit. Many of the workers have got connections with people who work there because we all used to be part of the same Rover group. It was really impressive seeing on the news how they had pickets out for their overtime ban. Then they had pickets out again for their strike. I went down there to support them and I want to go there for the next strike.'
'It's good to see the whole workforce out together. They are showing they are not going to be pissed on,' said one worker at Peugeot's factory in Ryton. 'Peugeot workers applaud what the Land Rover workers are doing. Workers here are aware of what's going on. But I don't think the union officials here are exploiting it, they are not spreading the word enough.'
The Land Rover workers show how a workforce not known for militancy can reach breaking point. They voted by 82 percent to reject Ford's 6.5 percent pay deal because of the changes in working conditions attached to it. The workers, who are mainly in the TGWU and Amicus unions, also want pay parity with workers in the Jaguar company.
Up to 1,000 workers joined picket lines at Solihull over several weekends to enforce their overtime ban, which began before Christmas. The first 24-hour strike last month also saw strikers fill the factory gate entrances throughout the day. Next Monday's strike will hit Ford's production again. Normally the workers produce around 1,000 vehicles a day.
If the strikers stand firm, they can force Ford to pay up and stop the attack on their working conditions. The strike could also be a beacon to 550 workers at Aveley in Essex who are threatened with job losses if Ford shuts the factory in August. The workers voted by 76 percent for industrial action to stop the closure. Union officials were due to meet on Monday to discuss how to save that plant.