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From The Socialist newspaper, 19 January 2010

Defend jobs, nationalise Bosch

After months of 'warnings', Bosch have announced that they will close their car components plant in Miskin, south Wales, in 18 months' time - and move production to Hungary. They say that their Hungarian operation can do the work for two-thirds the cost.

Socialist Party Wales

If Bosch get away with this, 900 workers at the plant will lose their jobs, along with thousands of other jobs in the car industry supply chain.

In October, a Bosch spokesperson told the press that the South Wales plant was working with Bosch Germany on the next generation of alternators - cutting edge technology. But, it seems, the plant will not be allowed to put the alternator it helped to design into production.

This multinational company is moving, after years of profit-making at the workforce's expense - and at least 21 million in grants from the Welsh Assembly - in order to make even more profit in the low wage economy of Eastern Europe.

Thousands of jobs in Wales have gone in the last 18 months. We cannot afford to lose these jobs - some of the most skilled we have. Bosch also runs an apprenticeship scheme, which receives an avalanche of applications every year.

When Bosch cut 600 jobs at the plant last year, no action was taken because those workers were on casual and agency contracts. Despite all the Welsh Assembly's retraining efforts, a large percentage of those workers still haven't found jobs. Even many of those who are in work have had to take a big cut in pay and conditions.

Bosch workers need to demand nationalisation. If the government can take over banks, they can take over factories to save jobs. Bosch is not ready to move production yet, so workers can still have leverage on the company.

In the mass meeting held at the plant on 16 January, the union told workers that the only issue was how much redundancy they could get. But the threat of industrial action could change the situation completely and put the company on the back foot.

If workers at Bosch fight, they have the chance of keeping the plant open. At worst, a fight would force Bosch to put more money on the table.

Visteon

Visteon workers fighting back, photo Greg Maughan

Visteon workers fighting back, photo Greg Maughan   (Click to enlarge)

Last year, Unite members in the car component sector showed it was possible to fight and win victories against the odds. Workers at the three (ex-Ford) Visteon plants occupied their plants, when the company filed for bankruptcy. Although the occupations didn't manage to keep the plants open, they did force Ford to offer improved redundancy payments.

At the Linamar (ex-Ford/Visteon) plant in Swansea, management sacked the union convenor, Socialist Party member Rob Williams, last summer - and then were forced to reinstate him after the workforce took an overwhelming vote for strike action.

Workers from car plants far and wide had pledged their support and hundreds came to Swansea for a rally of support. Bosch workers will have the same support - and support from the general public - if they decide to fight.

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