The Socialist 2 April 2008
End Labour's 'them and us' society
Uncertain future for workers
INDIAN CONGLOMERATE Tata has bought Jaguar & Land Rover (JLR) from Ford for £1.15 billion - half the price they originally paid for the businesses. Apparently, the jobs of over 16,000 workers have been secured by the deal.
Rob Williams, Convenor, Swansea Visteon Plant
However, with an eye on what happened in Longbridge in MG Rover and also TVR in Blackpool, where British car workers were promised a rescue plan and then thrown on the scrapheap, these workers and the thousands who depend on them in the component manufacturers, will adopt a 'wait and see' approach'.
In reality, Ford is using the profitable Land Rover as a sweetener to offload the ailing Jaguar. But they are responsible for this with their disastrous policy of trying to make Jaguar into a mass-selling car. In fact, they only succeeded in downgrading it and losing its 'executive' appeal.
This was part of Ford's plan for world domination in the 1980s and 1990s when they also took over Volvo and Aston Martin.
This was OK when the gas guzzlers were selling in the US's boom economy. Now boom has turned to bust Ford has been shattered.
While union leaders welcomed the purchase, workers will tread carefully. Ford and Tata directors and shareholders will always act in their own interests. Ford is brutally making its workforce pay the price for its failures in the USA, with its new contract of about £7 an hour - a 50% cut.
Tata will be fully prepared to move against its workforce to protect its profits. This will be multiplied if, as expected, the world economy tips into recession.
Already JLR suppliers are being warned that they have to be 'competitive' to keep supplying. Yet there are thousands of UK jobs in this sector.
No doubt, union leaders see Tata as the 'lesser evil' but there is another alternative. JLR should be nationalised with no compensation paid to rich Ford shareholders or other fat cats.
This would secure JLR workers' jobs but only on the basis of workers control and management, not the 'Old' Labour nationalisations of the past which kept the bosses in control. This would be a beacon to Britain's three million manufacturing workers.
In this issue
Socialist Party campaigns
Workplace news and analysis
Marxist analysis: history
International socialist news and analysis
Socialist Party review