Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/559/6670
Fighting the threatened closure of Hoover factory
Over 300 jobs are at risk in South Wales, as management at the Hoover washing machine and tumble dryer factory in Merthyr Tydfil warned it could no longer produce "competitively priced" products.
Hoover can be saved, but we need to look at the plants that have actually fought closure and won, to develop a strategy to save it. What trade unionists at Tower Colliery and Ford Visteon (now Linamar) in Swansea have in common is that when they were threatened with closure, they didn't let the bosses set the agenda.
Shop stewards - with the full support of members - immediately got the bosses on the back foot with an aggressive fight for jobs. That fight made it easier for the bosses to keep the workplace open than to close it.
Some stewards at Hoover are talking about a publicity campaign to make both their own members and the public aware that the plant is a viable concern. Yes, it's possible to make the goods more cheaply in China, but the company is just being greedy. They can make a profit keeping the jobs in South Wales. Stewards should demand that Hoover open the books.
Some stewards have also said they'd like to take a leaf out of Visteon's book and tell the company they will not allow them to take equipment out of the plant. That kind of uncompromising position could give Hoover pause for thought. At this stage, they say they are only "considering" closure. That suggests that they are looking to see what the response will be before they make a move.
There is huge public support for the fight to save jobs at Hoover. Those jobs are seen as the property of the people of Merthyr and the valleys. Generations have worked there. So, the potential is there to build a massive campaign of public support. And working class people no longer believe that the government can't get involved to save jobs.
We've seen billions poured into saving the banks. Now, everyone is saying, "If the government can save banks, it can save jobs". Why should they only bail out the millionaires?
For the moment, if the stewards were to call for a massive march through Merthyr - the Saturday before Christmas or first thing in the new year - that call would get a big response from the trade unions. It would also get a big response from ordinary working-class people across the valleys - not least those with jobs under threat at other factories and workplaces.
The Socialist says:
- Open the books - where have all the profits gone?
- Don't cut jobs, share out the work on the basis of a 35-hour week with no loss of pay.
- Organise to stop management asset-stripping the plant of tools and equipment.
- If the company insist on redundancies, nationalise the plant. Run it under the democratic control of the workers, trade unions and the local community. No more of our money should be used to bail out the millionaires. Pay compensation to shareholders only on the basis of proven need.
In The Socialist 3 December 2008:
Environment and socialism
Socialist Party editorial
Socialist Party campaigns
Socialist Party LGBT
Socialist Party Marxist analysis
International socialist news and analysis
Marxist analysis: history
Socialist Party news and analysis
Socialist Party workplace news