Socialist Worker

Respect offers a real alternative for Rover workers

Gordon Brown is involved in talks with a Chinese consortium that is considering buying a stake in Rover’s Longbridge car plant in Birmingham. This has led to speculation about job cuts. Longbridge worker Kevin Flanagan spoke to Socialist Worker.

Issue No. 1941

Kevin Flanegan

Kevin Flanegan

I STARTED at Longbridge in 1990. Then there were about 13,000 workers. Today there are about 6,000.

When BMW announced that they wanted to sell Rover in 2000 there was a huge demonstration. It wasn’t just car workers who were angry — everyone knew someone who worked at Longbridge, or at one of the companies that supplied Rover.

We said that they should nationalise the car industry. But Labour won’t do it. They don’t want responsibility for anything. It’s the same with housing and the NHS. Why do we have these elected people? What are they responsible for if everything is privatised?

It doesn’t matter who we vote for, nothing changes. But we have got Respect in Birmingham. It’s in its infant stage. In time we’ll be standing up strong.

Huge profits were made out of Longbridge when it was sold off to Phoenix — a consortium led by John Towers. Since then there has been a slow process of asset stripping. Towers bought the place for £10, but he has made millions. There have been lots of redundancies — they’ve halved the workforce.

Brown has just been over to China discussing the future of the plant. Our union leader Tony Woodley says it’s a good deal, but I hear the other side of it. What about all the local suppliers? Will they move to China? Lots of jobs may go. I think we’ll lose either way.

I think people will get really angry if we find they’ve lied to us. I think people will want to wreck the place, because we’ve been loyal. If they run off with a big packet of money and we’re left with no jobs, we’ll get organised and do something.

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Sat 5 Mar 2005, 00:00 GMT
Issue No. 1941
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