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Thousands more face jobs axe

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Issue 1690

Right across Britain

Thousands more face jobs axe

IT IS not just Rover and the Midlands that are being hit by massive job cuts. All over Britain the axe is hanging over workers’ livelihoods. The threat of closure is hanging over Ford’s giant plant at Dagenham in Essex. Ford says it will announce the findings of a review at the end of April or the beginning of May. But it has dropped big hints that it may move production of the new Fiesta car to Germany.

Ford plans massive job cuts to jack up profits despite the fact it has a “war chest” of 13 billion and is about to buy Land Rover for 2 billion. “It was bad enough when they announced the axing of a whole shift,” says a Dagenham worker. “Now we are supposed to sit back and wait for an announcement in May to know whether we have got a future or not. What am I supposed to tell my kids?” Mass meetings were held across the plant last week.

A worker in the Paint, Trim and Assembly plant says, “We’ve been lied to by Ford. You think you’ve got a job for life. Now I’m just sickened. “People were booing the union at our meeting. They say they are going to keep it open, but what good is that if they don’t even sound convinced?” Another worker says, “We should be building resistance now.”

Meanwhile in the Scottish borders clothing group Daks Simpson is to axe over 600 jobs because it has lost a contract with Marks & Spencer. The job cuts will hit the two Daks plants in Lanarkshire and West Lothian.

Marks & Spencer has moved clothes production abroad to increase profits. Already some 6,800 jobs have been cut. John Edmonds of the GMB union says, “M&S is doing to the UK textiles and clothing industry what BMW has done to the car industry with no government interest or intervention.”

A 31 year old worker who has been at Daks for 16 years says, “It’s going to have a devastating effect on people here. My mother’s a training instructor at Daks, my dad’s a cleaner and my sister’s a machinist. My mother’s sister worked there as well.”

In South Wales two steel plants which employ 5,000 people between them are under threat. Corus Steel was formed last year from a 4 billion merger between British Steel and Dutch firm Hoogovens. The company has already announced plans to cut 800 jobs by shutting a plant in Holland and another in Shelton, Staffordshire.

Now its plants in Llanwern near Newport, and Ebbw Vale are under threat. Workers also fear for their jobs at TRW at Resolven, near Neath.

Goodyear Wolverhampton

WORKERS FEAR over 2,500 jobs could go if Goodyear shuts its Wolverhampton tyre plant. The workers are already on short-time working. The plant is the town’s biggest employer. “To Wolverhampton, it’s like closing Longbridge,” says TGWU union official Jim Hunt.

Tyne workers demand future

HUNDREDS OF shipyard workers and their families marched through Newcastle on Friday of last week demanding government action over the jobs crisis in their industry. Over 13,000 jobs have gone in the last two years in shipyards along the River Tyne, and most yards now face being mothballed in the coming months unless new orders come in.

The GMB and AEEU unions plan a lobby of parliament on 12 April. “I’ve worked in the yards here for 26 years,” said Eddie from the Aker McNulty yard. “I’ve seen yard after yard close along the river. Something has to be done or there’ll be nothing left. It’s not just the Tyne or shipbuilding. Look at what’s happening elsewhere.” Dean is an apprentice in the same yard: “I’m marching for my future and that of young people like me. If the yards go, what work is there for us?”

Rolls Royce Cars

MORE THAN 200 jobs are to go at the Rolls Royce car plant in Bedford. The diesel engine plant is to close. This is because the company is transferring the work to Norway because it wants to put profits first.


HUNDREDS OF jobs are at risk at BAe Systems in Broughton, Clwyd. BAe bosses want a grant of 25 million to build the new Super Airbus, on top of the 530 million already handed out by the government. But BAe has been turned down. Workers at the factory are now afraid that 1,400 promised new jobs will go elsewhere.

Rolls Royce Aerospace

BOSSES WANT to axe more jobs at the Bristol plant. Workers in one section held a factory gate protest last week, and unions are calling for a ballot for action. If this year’s job cuts go ahead, 1,000 jobs will have been cut at the plant in two years. Job cuts were announced recently at the Barnoldswick plant, Lancashire. Yet the company’s order book stands at an all-time record level of 13 billion.


SOME 200 low paid women workers face the axe because of council cutbacks. The school meals contract will go out to tender.

Shut Sellafield but keep workers

THE SCANDAL-hit Sellafield nuclear plant in Cumbria could be set for massive job cuts. The government, according to a press leak, could abandon nuclear waste reprocessing at the plant.

The move follows a series of major safety scandals which have seen foreign governments suspend deals with the plant’s owner BNFL. Reprocessing waste from nuclear power stations is central to Sellafield. It takes nuclear waste and turns it into new, even more deadly, nuclear fuel which can then be reused.

Sellafield has been a disaster from its origins in the 1950s, when it was developed to produce nuclear material for use in Britain’s atomic bombs. In 1957 a massive fire spread radioactive material across the area. Children in the area have a much higher than normal incidence of leukemia, and this week the Irish and Danish governments began legal moves to have the plant shut down because of nuclear leaks into the Irish Sea and the North Sea.

The plant should be shut down. But that should not mean the workers there being thrown on the dole, in an area already devastated by factory and mine closures. The workers have skills which could and should be used for more useful jobs. Some have the skills to produce medical equipment that could save lives and treat people, like children with leukemia.

Many also have skills which could develop safer energy production, such as wind, wave and tidal power-all viable options in Cumbria.

The Thorp and Mox plants alone, a small part of the Sellafield complex, cost some 2.2 billion just to build. The same amount of money could pay everyone at Sellafield over 20,000 a year for over ten years without them doing anything. In the 1990s alone the nuclear industry also received 7.8 billion in subsidies from public funds. If that kind of money was invested in creating proper jobs, these workers would produce useful things and their future would be guaranteed.

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