Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/550/6455

From The Socialist newspaper, 2 October 2008

Unions must fight to defend Ford jobs

"You could gift wrap a Fiesta, stick it in the back of a Transit, sell the Transit and still make a profit", were the words of former Southampton Transit manager. The scandalous truth is Ford want to make more money and shift production from their Southampton plant to Turkey.

Nick Chaffey, Socialist Party and National Shop Stewards Network (NSSN) Southampton

Rather than fight the Ford propaganda machine, local politicians are lining up to join the chorus of gloom. In a letter to a local Ford worker, Southampton Lib Dem MP Sandra Gidley writes: "They are currently being produced at a loss."

The truth is, Ford have made massive profits from the Southampton plant in the past and now. One plant manager confessed in recent years Ford made 315 million in a single year. Ford in Europe have made profits for the last nine quarters, record profits in the last six months.

Ford workers in Southampton have made these profits for Ford out of increased productivity. In 1978 around 5,500 worked in Southampton. In 2008, 1,200 workers produce the same number of vehicles.

Intensification of work

Yes, Ford have retooled the factory but ask anyone on the line and they will tell you how work has intensified. An average grade 2 production worker earns 28,000 a year. Workers have calculated this means 370 in labour costs for every 18,500 vehicle.

No wonder then that on 1 September 2008, Stephen Odell, CFO (Chief Bean Counter) of Ford Europe told Automotive News that the Ford Motor Company were "delighted" with the Southampton plant.

To keep the plant open and capable of producing the new Transit in 2011 will require 100 million in retooling, a task that will need to begin soon if Southampton is to be ready to build the new van. That is chicken feed for Ford. They recently made over 1 billion from the sale of Jaguar, money that was taken out of the country to balance Ford's US losses.

In the US, Ford are benefiting from a share of $25 billion in loans from the US government between them, Chrysler and GM.

Ford's claims of an operational loss at Southampton is the difference between the profits they make in Southampton and the extra profits they make from the super-exploitation of Turkish workers at Kocaeli, described by those who have visited it as "an army camp". When pressed to explain Southampton "losses", Ford bosses have said nothing! Unions should demand Ford open the books.

As news spilled out into the local press following the announcement of the ending of Transit production, revelations over the payments to Ford's bosses added fuel to the fire. Ford president Alan Mulally "earned" over 25 million in the last two years.

According to Unite, the top seven Ford bosses earned in a year more than the total cost of retooling Southampton.

On Friday, 3 October, 120 contract workers are to be sacked. Without investment Transit production will end in 2011, a threat to over 1,000 Ford jobs and hundreds more in the area. 40 million at least will be sucked out of the local economy in lost wages. As if nothing could get worse, workers were offered overtime last weekend to catch up on recent lost production. There were few volunteers!

Unions must fight

The mood of anger must be organised and turned into a ferocious blaze which will scorch the plans of Ford bosses. An appeal to the trade unions and workers of Southampton would put thousands on the street in a demonstration of solidarity. Ford's lies must be exposed and an army of car workers must be mobilised to stop the closure threat to Southampton and elsewhere.

Ford's Blue Book, its agreement with the unions, made a commitment to Southampton's future which it is set to betray. Other plants around the country have closed without a fight being waged. This cannot be allowed to happen again. There is no time to lose, to delay would be fatal.


Southampton Shop Stewards Network Meeting

Defend Ford Jobs

Sunday 5 October, 7pm

Swaythling Neighbourhood Centre,

Hampton Park Way,

Southampton.


A Ford worker speaks: "It's a fight for all Ford plants".

At a Southampton meeting of the National Shop Stewards Network (NSSN) on 21 September, a Ford worker explained his ideas about organising a defence of jobs at Ford:

"Let us not forget that we enjoy a good lifestyle that is paid for through the salaries and wages from the Ford motor company. I for one would like that to continue at Ford, that the next generation benefit from the same source.

But let's not forget past struggles. There was an eleven-week strike in the early 1970s just to lay down some rules we know as the Blue Book. There was a nine-week strike to bust a pay rise ceiling of 5% against a background of double digit inflation.

There have been many other struggles over the decades, like equal pay for women for work of equal value. The line workers' allowance was also something that had to be fought for.

A long list over the years but when our unions ask for the investment for the new Transit, Ford start complaining about the cost compared to Turkey, that we're over budget by many millions.

In the recent past, Ford have asked and got the productivity and efficiency improvements they require. This is something we have achieved through our unions at great cost to everyone.

Some workloads have been raised from 80, 90 or 100 to 110% and these demands are every year. Now that we need them to keep faith with us, they say we can't have a proper mix of work for the new van, just the chassis cab.

100 million would secure the new model. Now you compare that to the salaries and bonuses of the top Ford bosses. They have lost billions in the US. Sales in Britain compared to Europe have been second to none and that's all Ford vehicles, with the Transit as the top selling commercial vehicle for decades.

Look at what the successful Spanish unions and government campaign achieved. The Spanish government slapped on a special tax until Ford agreed to build a factory and provide work for the Spanish people. They're now to build the new Fiesta there in 2009. What's wrong with that?

Our Labour government should be saying enough is enough. But they're not.

Where is the money from the sale of Jaguar or Land Rover? It's all gone, 1 billion, like thieves they ran, nothing invested in the British Ford industry. So said our national Unite official Dave Osborne at our mass meeting. He, with many others, has fears for the rest of the industry.

The proposed new chassis cab for Southampton is not enough to sustain production at Dagenham Press or one of our engine plants. If that's the case the job losses will not be in the thousands but in the tens of thousands.

We should not let this happen without a fight. Just look at the mess the service industries are in across the country. They have been telling us that this is the new industry for Britain. Are they mad or what? Estate agent, insurance salesman, try banking! I don't see a success there!

What all nations need is a balance, a mixed economy. Work reflecting the success of the nation's market.

To secure the future we need to talk tougher, link up with the other plants next on their list. Someone said the baby boomers won't go quietly, so let's show them what we could do. Our union leaders need to up the ante across all plants. This is not just our fight, it's a fight for all Ford plants, it's now or never!"

Why not click here to join the Socialist Party, or click here to donate to the Socialist Party.


In The Socialist 2 October 2008:


Socialist Party editorial

Market madness!


Credit crunch

Bradford & Bingley: We need real nationalisation

The bishop and the 'bank robbers'

Russia: economic crisis looms

What is short-selling and will the ban have any effect?

Short-sellers back Tories

Another nail in New Labour's coffin


Socialist Students

Student debt soaring

Lots of new recruits for Socialist Students


Global Warming

Climate change calamities: Socialist planning needed

Cuts and privatisation threaten new floods


Socialist Party workplace news

Local government pay dispute in Scotland: solid support for strike

Unison goes to arbitration - a strategy or surrender?

Union calls ballot over health pay

Unions must fight to defend Ford jobs

Lincoln - fight council cuts plan

Workplace news in brief


Socialist Party campaigns

Jean Charles de Menezes


Comment

Conditions in China


Socialist Party review

Liberty by Glyn Maxwell at Shakespeare's Globe


 

Home   |   The Socialist 2 October 2008   |   Join the Socialist Party

Subscribe   |   Donate  




Related links:

Ford:

triangleFord workers vote for action

triangleVote for action to save Ford plant

triangleBridgend Ford overtime stoppage in sourcing dispute

trianglePrecise, visceral account of working class heroism

triangleLeaked document threatens jobs and conditions at Ford Bridgend

Unions:

triangleNasty party imploding...drive out the Tories

triangleWaltham Forest Socialist Party: Black workers and the British trade unions

triangleGig economy exploiter Uber loses London licence

triangleFrench Labour reform protests

Southampton:

triangleFawley refinery canteen strikers tell their employer: "pay up"

triangleSouthampton councillors faced with angry anti-cuts campaigners

triangleCorbyn visits Southampton on marginal seat tour

National Shop Stewards Network:

triangleBirmingham: NSSN Solidarity Forum

triangleFood processing workers vote for action against miserly bosses

Reports and campaigns

Reports and campaigns

12/10/17

Cleaners

Justice for Tube cleaners demo

11/10/17

Salford

Salford Unison condemns pay cuts

11/10/17

Royal Mail

CWU fights court attempt to stop national strike

11/10/17

Carlisle

Carlisle NHS campaigners hand in petition to MP

11/10/17

Green

Don't wreck our rec! Campaigning to save green space in Standish

11/10/17

Fire

No more fire deaths - ensure safety now!

11/10/17

Cardiff

Cardiff Socialist Students confront 'Parasite' Jacob Rees-Mogg

11/10/17

John McDonnell

Manchester rally discussed unionisation and nationalisation

11/10/17

Orgreave

Join the Orgreave Halloween rally

11/10/17

Union

Workplace news in brief

11/10/17

Democratic rights

Who's watching who?: The fight for justice, trade union and democratic rights

6/10/17

Northern Ireland

Boeing bust-up threatens thousands of skilled jobs

5/10/17

Runcorn

Too much to cross the Mersey

4/10/17

Royal Mail

Set for national strike action

4/10/17

London

Supporting the general strike in Catalonia

triangleMore Reports and campaigns articles...


Join the Socialist Party
Subscribe to Socialist Party publications
Donate to the Socialist Party

triangle13 Oct The end of the Tories?

triangle11 Oct Nasty party imploding...drive out the Tories

triangle11 Oct CWU fights court attempt to stop national strike

triangle11 Oct The fight against racial discrimination is tied to fighting against...

triangle11 Oct Catalonia: Workers can finish what Puigdemont won't

triangle6 Oct Boeing bust-up threatens thousands of skilled jobs

triangle4 Oct The nasty party turns on itself... but the Tories must be driven out

More ...

triangle16 Oct Teesside Socialist Party: After the party conferences

triangle17 Oct London: TUC lobby & rally; and London march

triangle18 Oct Warrington & St Helens Socialist Party: 1917-2017; the October Russian Revolution

triangle18 Oct Hackney Socialist Party: 100 years ago - the Bolshevik-led revolution

More ...

Socialist Party Facebook page
Socialist Party on Twitter
Visit us on Youtube

Archive

Archives:

October 2017

September 2017

August 2017

July 2017

June 2017

May 2017

April 2017

March 2017

February 2017

January 2017

2016

2015

2014

2013

2012

2011

2010

2009

2008

2007

2006

2005

2004

2003

2002

2001

2000

1999

Legal

SP RSS feed RSS

Platform setting: = No platform choice

V2