Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/202/8469
Fight The Job Cuts Avalanche
FOLLOWING THE pattern of closures and job losses across Britain, Scottish electronics has been faced with a series of blows in the last fortnight. First of all Compaq announced 700 job losses at its plant in Erskine. This was followed by the devastating news of the possible closure by the US multinational Motorola of its West Lothian mobile phone plant.
Harvey Duke, Scottish Socialist Party prospective parliamentary candidate for Dundee East
Fear and anger spread amongst 3,200 families in Bathgate, West Lothian, when Motorola failed to deny their plant would close.
The price of shares in Motorola fell dramatically on 6 April, a few days before the closure news hit the media. Rumours spread that Motorola, which manufactures chips for PCs, semi-conductors and mobile phones, had a financial crisis.
Hit by a drastic drop in sales, they were heading for their first quarterly loss in 16 years. In the first three months of 2001, Motorola faced a loss of £140 million compared to a profit of £338 million for the same period last year.
There is an eerie similarity between the Motorola closure and the loss of thousands of jobs at the Corus steel plants in Wales and England.
As soon as the Motorola closure was rumoured in the press, the share price recovered. Exactly the same happened when the Corus job losses were announced.
Both closures are evidence of the US recession spreading internationally. This week an avalanche of job losses were announced in the hi-tech sector worldwide: 7,500 at Philips, 8,500 at Cisco and 2,000 at Texas Instruments.
Workers at Motorola were deliberately left in the dark. "There are a lot of young people with families and mortgages and they are left hanging not knowing if they have a job", said one.
Demonstrations in support of the Bathgate workers, linking up the struggle with those plants facing the axe by Motorola internationally would get a big echo.
A workers' plan of production based on need not profit is necessary as an alternative to the chaos of the capitalist market, which is destroying jobs and communities across Scotland and internationally.
Motorola's lack of service to industry
THE LAST time Bathgate workers faced this scale of job cuts was in the 1980s when British Leyland pulled out, putting 6,000 on the dole. With the additional loss of the mines, unemployment rocketed to 25% at that time. Now with unemployment at 4%, it looks like a return to the darkest days of the 1980s, unless a big fightback can be mobilised.
Bill Spiers, Scottish TUC general Secretary, describes Motorola as a "classic example of a company where workers are denied union representation, and told their fate by the media."
Tony Blair had a 15-minute phone call with the company president, allegedly stalling the closure. Scottish Executive minister Wendy Alexander claimed to have pushed her way into the company's Chicago HQ to demand a meeting.
New Labour are terrified that this closure would damage their electoral prospects. In an act of insensitive bad timing, New Labour are to give an MBE to Motorola's British chairman for services to British industry.
Thousands of workers would rally to a campaign to save the plant. Internationally Motorola announced 22,000 job losses in March. A further 3,500 workers in Scotland work for Motorola either in phone assembly or semi-conductor production at East Kilbride and South Queensferry. These jobs could well be next on the hit list, as Motorola profits are squeezed by the developing world recession. Across the globe there is an over-capacity of phones and a crisis in semi-conductors. It is the workers who will be made to pay for this crisis unless a fightback is organised.
So far, the unions have given no lead. The STUC and the engineering union AEEU have called for a 'task force' to save jobs in the Silicon Glen. New Labour, the Scottish Nationalists and the Tories will go along with this approach.
Socialists should call for a programme of action by the working class to fight this jobs slaughter.
We call for the nationalisation of Motorola and all other firms threatening redundancies, under democratic working class control and management.
In The Socialist 20 April 2001: