Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/567/6922
Fight back now to stop job cuts
Join the march for jobs
SACKED AT an hour's notice! And with no redundancy pay even after years of continuous work. That's what the bosses did to 850 workers at the BMW car plant at Cowley, Oxford.
These sackings typify the plight of workers today in 'casualised Britain' plc. The 850 sacked workers were agency staff who didn't have the same employment rights as permanent workers.
As one outraged worker put it: "It's the unfairness of the way people are treated in large corporations such as BMW. Why is it allowed to happen that people like myself go to work, give the company fairness, loyalty, commitment, and try to build a better life for [themselves], then half an hour later they can just be told: 'You haven't got a job any more'?"
The simple but brutal answer is that under capitalism if you're not making sufficient profits (and BMW is still making profits) you're shown the door. Moreover, it shows that New Labour isn't interested in changing the law to protect these workers if it means hurting the profits of big business. Meanwhile job-cutting multinationals are hiring lawyers and accountants to figure out how to cut down on redundancy pay for permanent workers like they did recently at Marks and Spencer.
The BMW workers will add to the nearly two million workers who are officially unemployed. Many of them will now be forced to live on the pittance that is Job Seekers Allowance (JSA). If you're under 24 the JSA rate is a paltry £47.95 a week.
If you can make ends meet on this income, together with other miserly benefits, you've got far better finance management skills than those running Britain's banks!
Some Tory MPs, showing their true colours, suggest abolishing the national minimum wage as a 'solution' to unemployment. Even though these proposals are unlikely to be passed, the political elite all want to make workers and young people pay the price for this capitalist crisis.
Video of Public meeting on lessons of the Lindsey oil refinery strike, Keith Gibson and Jerry Hicks, photo Socialist Party
But is there an alternative to the bosses' jobs slaughter? Yes, there is. Striking workers at Lindsey won jobs on trade union-agreed pay and conditions with the right to inspect employment records and ensure that all workers on the site are on the same conditions. The lesson for workers and young people is that struggles can be won if conducted on fighting lines.
Workers, trade unionists, and young people have two roads before them. One is that of Woolworths and Zavvi, of massive job losses and lengthening dole queues. The other is of fighting back, the path of Lindsey oil refinery and other construction workers around the country, of the workers occupying Waterford Crystal in Ireland and of the many other campaigns taking place that you can read about in The Socialist.
The Youth Fight for Jobs campaign is winning support from trade unionists and campaigners across the country. We say 'no' to increasing unemployment. If the government can bail out the banks to the tune of billions of pounds, they should be able to offer young people a decent future.
We're fighting for a real programme of job creation. Why should car workers lose their jobs when their skills are urgently needed, in order to mass-produce vitally needed 'green' technologies for instance? Why should people have to take several jobs working long hours whilst others are unemployed? Why should graduates not be able to use their skills in a socially productive way?
If you agree with us, get involved in Youth Fight for Jobs and join our demonstration on 2 April.
We fight for:
- The right to a decent job for all, with a minimum wage of at least £8 an hour.
- No to cheap labour apprenticeships! All apprenticeships to pay at least the minimum wage, with a job guaranteed at the end.
- No to university fees. Support the Campaign to Defeat Fees.
Join the march for jobs
Thursday 2 April
No to youth unemployment
We demand a future
In The Socialist 17 February 2009:
Socialist Party editorial
Socialist Party campaigns
Socialist Party feature
International socialist news and analysis
Socialist Party workplace news and analysis