Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/388/4389
Nationalise Rover now
Sack the board, not the workers
TENS OF thousands of workers in the West Midlands face an uncertain future, as behind closed doors administrators - in reality, asset strippers - pick over what Phoenix have left of Rover.
Dave Nellist, Socialist Party councillor, Coventry
Five years ago, when the BMW crisis threatened jobs at Longbridge, we warned that no private sector solution would guarantee the jobs of all Rover workers and those in component suppliers. We called for BMW's assets in Britain to be taken back into public ownership.
That should be done immediately - but no compensation should be paid to the Phoenix Four. They seem to have protected and enriched themselves, unlike the thousands of workers who tragically were persuaded to trust them and who now face redundancy and the insecurity of an increasingly low-wage economy.
Longbridge, like the rest of British Leyland where it sprang from, has lacked the investment from the beginning for it to be able to compete on the world car market. That's why we call for a plan to be drawn up, in conjunction with Rover workers, for public investment under democratic public control.
Hundreds of millions of pounds of public money will be spent picking up the pieces of this industrial vandalism if the Rover closure goes through. Rather than spend money on the aftermath of Rover's collapse, it would be far better to invest it in keeping the industry alive.
But such huge public investment shouldn't be a subsidy to another private company's profits. Government intervention and public investment should be matched by public ownership and democratic public control.
And by the involvement of Rover workers themselves in the drawing up of a new plan of production to meet the transport needs of the whole of society.
To those who say it can't be done - I can vividly remember as a young apprentice at the Rolls Royce Technical College in Bristol in 1971 hearing how the then Tory Prime Minister, Edward Heath, had nationalised Rolls Royce to prevent the break-up of the aero engine industry.
This was in only 24 hours of parliamentary time! If this New Labour government were serious about saving jobs, it could be done again.
Five years ago, the threat of massive job cuts led to a huge demonstration in Birmingham. We urgently need that same spirit of trade union action and community support to stop the vultures circling over Longbridge.
Also a 24/7 presence is urgently needed to ensure the administrators move no plant, machinery or cars without the prior agreement of the workforce. Any attempt to move material out of the plant must be actively blocked. There should be no stripping of the assets.
In The Socialist 14 April 2005: