Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/681/12477
Save jobs, renationalise UK rail and train building
Steve Score and Dave Gorton
Around 10,000 marched against job cuts on 23 July in the biggest demonstration in Derby for decades. It was a protest of the working class, with train manufacturer Bombardier workers marching alongside supporters from all over Derby and beyond.
Bombardier has announced the loss of 1,400 jobs following the government decision to award the Thameslink rail project to German company, Siemens. And they spent £15 million on consultants to help them make the decision.
At the closing rally speakers including Bob Crow, transport union RMT general secretary, called for a reversal of the government decision to give 'preferred bidder status' to Siemens rather than Bombardier.
Thousands of leaflets were handed out by Socialist Party members and supporters of the National Shop Stewards Network (NSSN) calling for the re-nationalisation of Bombardier and the rail network in order to expand public transport and create a long-term future for rail jobs.
Following the demo 100 people went straight to a meeting called by the NSSN. Darren Barber, vice chair of the Bombardier trade union shop stewards' committee, got proceedings off to a lively start: "I'm buzzing, I feel as though something can change because everyone has got together.
"The mood was dead when the announcement first came, but when the unions start getting involved we started to get some belief. It makes me proud to be a rep."
Alex Gordon, RMT president, in an excellent speech, spelt out his union's position on nationalisation and public ownership and that workers' jobs would never be safe while in the hands of private companies.
Rob Williams, chair of the NSSN, said: "We fully support the Bombardier workers. It is in all workers' interests, whether in the public or private sectors, for Bombardier workers to win.
"We stand for international solidarity, but that is no contradiction to defending the jobs in Derby. How can any government force a company to invest when it isn't owned by the government?
"Why can't the government nationalise Bombardier just like the banks? It was a Tory government that nationalised Rolls Royce in 1971 overnight to save that company - there is a precedent.
"Except that this time it should be with democratic workers' control and management."
Ex-Unite general secretary Tony Woodley's use of the 'British Jobs for British Workers (BJFBW)' slogan in his closing speech at the main rally, set alongside the platform of a Bombardier manager and Tory council leader, can strengthen the impression that 'we are all in this together'.
In reality, the interests of the workers in Derby are to fight to reverse the government's decision and to explain the pro-business/neoliberal directives of the EU which enshrine the 'race to the bottom'.
But the BJFBW slogan is a complete divergence in this campaign. The call for nationalisation makes it clear that 'we' - the Bombardier workforce and management and the Con-Dem coalition - aren't in this together and emphasises that this struggle is a class one.
In The Socialist 3 August 2011:
Fighting the cuts
Opposing the far right
Socialist Party NHS campaigning
International socialist news and analysis
Socialist Party workplace news
Socialist Party youth and students
Socialist Party news and campaigns
Socialist Party review
Socialist Party feature