Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/555/6579
Fighting for a socialist solution to the crisis in the car industry
In the recession in the 'real' economy, the car industry is one of the first to be hit. Ford workers at Southampton have taken their first action against plans to close the plant there, whilst Ford at Dagenham is now on a three-day week.
Paula Mitchell, London Socialist Party
We went to the Dagenham plant with leaflets based on the excellent article in last week's edition of The Socialist (554). There are activists in the National Shop Stewards Network at the plant but we didn't really know what reception we would get.
We arrived at six on a freezing morning and found a spot where we could hand leaflets through a fence to workers walking from the car park to the factory door - better than trying to flag down drivers in the dark!
The welcome was overwhelmingly friendly. Because of the three-day week they are on 80% pay. Some workers were laid off last week and there are plans to lay more off in a month.
Workers said the situation "stinks", and most agreed that there needs to be a national trade union campaign to save jobs and factories, though there is frustration at what they see as a lack of leadership.
They were interested to hear of the walk-out at Southampton and agreed with the idea of a national car workers' demo. Our call for a car shop stewards' conference was supported, as was the demand that any plant threatened with closure or big cuts should be nationalised.
One worker explained that when Ford Europe had wanted to shut down the whole plant at Dagenham, the government gave all sorts of sweeteners to save engine production.
Why could they not take action again - not sweeteners to the bosses this time, but to take over the plant?
We talked about the need to start a fight back at Dagenham, and workers thought a meeting was necessary to discuss starting up a campaign to defend jobs.
Later that day we heard from one of the reps that our leaflets were all over the plant.
In The Socialist 5 November 2008:
Socialist Party campaigns
Marxist analysis: history
Socialist Party workplace news