The Socialist 21 October 2008
‘Why not save our jobs?’
Fight for jobs at JCB
JCB has just announced a further reduction of 19% in direct labour costs. This equates to 500 redundancies across its UK group. This comes on top of several hundred redundancies already made since August this year.
A JCB worker
We were told this after attending business review update meetings, where we were informed that JCB sales were expected to be 55% lower than this time last year. This is a result of the collapse of the housing markets throughout Europe, where whole housing projects have in some cases just been abandoned midway through construction.
At the meetings, alternatives to the redundancies were proposed. JCB believes that once these cuts are made, they will not be able to recover the loss of so many skilled workers if there is an upturn in the future.
One alternative was to move to short time working, from 39 hours to 31.5 hours a week. Socialists fight for a reduction in the working week with no loss in pay but this proposal would see us losing hundreds of pounds a month. We were told short-time working will last a minimum of six months. This is clearly unacceptable.
The GMB joint shop stewards' committee has been in negotiations with management over these proposals. It has now got an agreement and is recommending a 34-hour short time working week to us.
The role of the joint shop stewards' committee has been disgraceful to say the least. No meetings have been held with the workforce. All we have received is a single GMB members' update that was put on the notice board. The update said that the GMB's "fundamental aim is to preserve jobs". Yet hundreds have already lost their jobs without any attempt by the GMB to put forward any strategy to fight.
The short-time working will mean fewer redundancies. This is welcome but either of the options open to us will see us lose out. Workers are split. Many say that short time will mean they can't keep up their mortgages or other commitments. Those that have not been here for long know they will be the first to be made redundant and are hoping that short time will mean they keep their jobs.
There will be a ballot this week on these proposals. This should be a ballot calling for no compulsory redundancies and no reduction in the working week unless our full pay is guaranteed.
At JCB headquarters there is a lake that was modelled on one at the residence of Joseph Cyril Bamford (JCB) when he was a tax exile in Cyprus. Last year JCB made £100 million in profits. The year before was a previous record of £60 million.
We say open up the books and let's see where all the money has gone. If JCB can't guarantee our jobs and pay then it should be nationalised. Not as the banks have been, to bail out the rich. But nationalisation under democratic workers' control and management. This would end the crazy destruction of skilled jobs and allow a massive house building plan to provide cheap affordable housing for all who need it.
In this issue
Ford workers strike
Socialist Party editorial
Socialist Party campaigns
Socialist Party workplace news
International socialist news and analysis
Socialist Party review