Socialist Worker

Take to the streets at Longbridge

by Kevin Flanagan, Longbridge worker
Issue No. 1947

Cartoon by Tim Sanders

Cartoon by Tim Sanders

The government provided a £6.5 million loan for Longbridge this week. At a mass meeting on Monday we were told some of that will go to keeping us on the books for a week.

Labour might string us along like that for another three weeks to avoid the pictures of 6,100 workers actually getting the chop during the election campaign. Then they’ll dump us afterwards

Tony Woodley, general secretary of the T&G union, told us the chance of a new deal with the Chinese was “a million to one”. That tells me that the remaining time we’ve got should building a campaign in Birmingham, the West Midlands and across Britain to force the government to act.

Instead, we’ve had the union leaders working hand in glove with New Labour — joint press conferences and joint visits.

It’s obvious to anyone that this is about trying to maintain the vote for Labour. But at what cost? It’s at the cost of 6,100 jobs and more in suppliers.

It’s at the cost of the unions losing a vital base in industry. It’s at the cost of sending a signal to every manufacturing worker that the unions are not going to fight for you if it means upsetting Labour.

It’s at the cost of workers wondering whether the unions are there to parrot New Labour propaganda or to fight for workers, no matter who’s in government.

There are basic things that need to be done now. No one’s talking about occupying the plant — though that’s certainly the way to stop asset stripping.

But quite a lot of workers agree that we should have a mass demonstration or a rally like we did five years ago.

Getting that to happen requires leadership. Everyone should get behind the call for a rally in the city centre this Saturday. And we need the unions to call something big.

But we were sent home after Monday’s mass meeting with no date for meeting again.

If no one in Longbridge is prepared to organise a march then it’ll have to come from others in Birmingham. It’s not ideal, but it’s better than nothing and I think it will get a good response.

For more see Rover workers’ anger at Labour

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Article information

Sat 16 Apr 2005, 00:00 BST
Issue No. 1947
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