Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/153/7780
Where did all the money go?
THE BIG car companies always play one country off against another. BMW threatened to move Rover 75 production to Hungary in 1998 unless the government coughed up £250 million to develop the Longbridge plant.
The government finally conceded £152 million but in the end, BMW pulled out altogether from the UK and didn't "collect" the aid.
Rover's predecessor British Leyland collected billions in state aid throughout the 1970s and 1980s. The Tories then gave Rover to a private company British Aerospace (BAe) for under £150 million. They also secretly gave BAe £250 million from a slush fund so grateful were the Tories to privatise BL.
The unions should ask what happened to all this state aid? Whose pockets did it line at the time it was given?
Discussions with the asset strippers Alchemy Partners, are due to conclude by Easter.
The government has washed its hands of the crisis. It's up to the trade unions and Rover workers to fight the destruction of Longbridge and other parts of the company.
As a first step, Rover shop stewards should call a conference of unions within the car industry, including Ford, Vauxhall and their component suppliers. They could then put flesh on the demand to "open the books" and end commercial secrecy when it threatens workers' livelihoods for the benefit of a wealthy few.
In The Socialist 14 April 2000: