Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/365/5991
CBI boss threatens Coventry workers
Don't Let The Fat Cats Bury The Big Cat
DIGBY JONES, the bosses' representative at the head of the CBI has warned Jaguar workers not to "push water uphill". The Coventry Evening Telegraph reported him as saying that: "Unions should recognise they could push Ford too far". He warned them Ford could pull out of Britain if it felt workers were "being too quick to suggest strike action".
Dave Griffiths, Coventry Socialist Party
This thinly veiled threat is aimed at keeping Jaguar workers quiet and stopping them fighting back. Jones wants them to meekly accept their fate and let Ford get away with its closures.
But being quiet is the last thing most Coventry people want to do. They have had enough of the huge loss of jobs and manufacturing in Coventry. While many fear the whims of multinationals like Ford, most feel it's "time to do something". Every time the Socialist Party goes out petitioning there are queues at stalls to oppose closure and discussion about what can be done.
With this mood, and the decision of Jaguar workers to fight the closure of Brown's Lane, obviously the bosses fear the growing mood of opposition.
The Jaguar unions must urgently build on this huge potential support in Coventry and the wider area. A mass movement could be developed to back the Jag workers which would give the workers themselves more confidence in their battle with Ford.
It is over two weeks since the end of car production here was announced and action is needed through rallies and demonstrations and through meetings seeking the support of other local trades unions and workplaces to keep the support going and strengthen it.
The angry mood has led to pressure for the government to act. Unions say they are pleased with the backing of both the Prime Minister and the Chancellor of the Exchequer. Reports say they will call upon the company to have further discussions with the workforce and community representatives, including giving the trade unions the opportunity to present alternative plans.
Union general secretaries Tony Woodley (TGWU), Derek Simpson (Amicus), and Kevin Curran (GMB), said: "We believe the government will play a most constructive role."
But this, in itself, is no guarantee of saving Brown's Lane and Jaguar's future. All backing is welcome but workers should be wary of putting all their eggs in one basket of an approach by Tony Blair or Gordon Brown to Ford.
This is only an appeal to hear alternative plans. It does not guarantee the keeping of production here in Coventry. The government is also the same government who has kept Tory anti-union laws that give greater freedoms to companies like Ford to do what they are doing. The government also support and encourage the global markets that have led to this situation. If Ford still say there is no alternative what will be done then?
Vital to the success of any campaign to save jobs is that the strength of workers should be mobilised. A key element of winning this fight is the determination of the Jaguar workers themselves and the wider working-class support they could enjoy were it organised. If Ford are to change their mind it is this strength that will do it.
Ultimately, as long as big multinationals and the profit system dominate, then proper planning of resources and production cannot happen and insecurity will reign. Public ownership, under the democratic control and management of Ford workers and the wider working class, is the only way the accumulated skills and resources of plants like Brown's Lane can be used for the benefit of all, not just the profits of a few.
DAVE NELLIST and Karen McKay, Socialist Party councillors on Coventry city council presented a petition to the council on 23 September.
They demanded: Full support for the Jaguar trade unions in a determined campaign to save jobs; The City Council to call a Town's Meeting to rally the whole community behind Jaguar workers and their families; The trade union movement to organise a national march and rally in Coventry in defence of manufacturing industry.
The Socialist Party has been campaigning every day and collecting thousands more signatures to this petition. Support has also come in from other trade unions.
Knowsley UNISON, for example, has recently passed a resolution condemning the decision to end production at Brown's Lane and offering support and solidarity to the Coventry unions fighting the closure.
In The Socialist 9 October 2004:
Socialist Party feature
International socialist news and analysis