Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/153/7779
Crisis in the Car Industry - Double dealing Bosses
THE ROVER crisis shows that BMW are typical capitalists, they're double-dealing hypocrites. Rover's last owners were prepared to fiddle the profit and loss accounts to justify whatever they wanted to do.
At the same time they said they couldn't reveal how they made their calculations because they needed 'commercial secrecy'!
BMW have undoubtedly "cooked the books". Rover's claim of "huge losses last year" is widely seen as a figment of the BMW bosses' imagination.
Harold Musgrove, former Rover chairman, accused the company of playing a "three card trick" over the claimed £750 million losses. "This is saying the losses were greater than the whole wage bill" he claimed, calling the whole operation a 'rape', not just asset stripping.
Musgrove admitted that the Longbridge workers had agreed to "flexible hours" and that "they couldn't have done any more". He should know. He was one of many managers who drove workers to produce more and more for less and less.
Longbridge in fact increased their productivity in 1999 by an amazing 70%, up from 30 cars to 50 cars per worker per year!
Albert Bore, Labour leader of Birmingham city council, said that BMW "have stripped out 4x4 technology from Rover and exported it to a plant in the USA to produce a BMW variant of the Landrover".
The big international car monopolies know each other's 'commercial secrets'. They only hide behind "the threat to competition" to sow confusion into workers' minds.
Price-rigging between the big companies is now well exposed. In Britain cars cost at least 15% more than the same cars on the continent. Big dealers in Britain secretly conspired with the manufacturers for years to keep their prices artificially higher.
Under private ownership, you can't get to the bottom of the big monopolies' financial jiggery-pokery. But the unions should demand complete transparency of the capitalists' accounts.
The unions should use this demand to prove again the need for public ownership and democratic workers' control in Rover and the rest of the car industry.
In The Socialist 14 April 2000: