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From The Socialist newspaper, 21 April 2005

MG Rover crisis

Renationalise Rover - change the system!

THOUSANDS OF Rover workers have now got their redundancy notices. Thousands more jobs are going in component suppliers all over the country. And now workers are being laid off from Phoenix Venture Motors as the spares, sales and servicing outfit goes into receivership.

Phoenix chairman John Towers - the latest boss to make millions out of Rover while workers lose their jobs - is whining about being the victim of "character assassination". He says plenty of other bosses get 200,000 salaries and 105,000 pensions. Of course he's right. Not all bosses manage to lose millions, declare thousands of workers redundant and still come out with a handsome nest egg, but plenty do.

One of the reasons the deal with the Chinese car manufacturers (SAIC) fell through, was their fear of the costs of laying off thousands of Longbridge workers whilst they stripped Rover of all they needed. "If we wanted to pick up the business and some employees, the cost of redundancies, pensions and warranties will follow us around like a bad smell," a source close to SAIC blurted out.

And an "insolvency expert" mused fondly about the good old days, before the trade unions gained some protection from hire 'em and fire 'em bosses: "We used to be able to lay off all the employees at 10am, sell the company at 12pm. That was deemed to be a 'break' and then they could all be rehired without the liabilities," he said.

The government has promised a 150 million aid package for the West Midlands and millions more will be spent in the aftermath of Rover's collapse. But this public investment shouldn't be to subsidise private companies - it should mean public ownership and democratic public control. The skills and experience of the Rover workers should be involved in drawing up new production plans which would meet the transport needs of the whole of society.

We need to change the system that treats workers' rights as a "bad smell". Rover should be renationalised, under democratic workers' control.


PCS union president urges action to save jobs

"IT'S A disgrace that the livelihoods of tens of thousands of families are sacrificed for the sake of the profits of a few.

Janice Godrich, president, Public and Commercial Services union (PCS)

Rather than spend millions to fund redundancy payments the government should take the company over, without paying compensation to the greedy bosses who have already made an obscene killing

I remember vividly when workers in the Upper Clyde Shipyards faced the same threats. They forced a Tory government to nationalise the company and protected their jobs for a generation by occupying the yards and campaigning across the country.

Unions at Longbridge should look to their own history and consider similar steps if the government won't take the company over to secure their future.

The mass of the UK public supported the Clyde shipyard workers in the 1970s. I am sure the Longbridge workers could get the same support and go on to secure their future."


ROVER WORKERS and their families protested outside 10 Downing Street last week. Bill Mullins spoke to Phil Hanks, who was there with his partner and son.

"I have worked in the paint shop for 15 years and would love the government to take over the factory to defend our jobs.

"The only work we are being offered in the JobCentre is MacDonald-type work. There's a hell of a lot of people rely on Rover for their jobs as well - you can't say the same about MacDonald's.

"Red Robbo [the Longbridge convener sacked by BL bosses in the 1980s] has been in all the Birmingham papers. We need another Red Robbo to save the factory."

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Coronavirus crisis - Finance appeal

The coronavirus crisis has laid bare the class character of society in numerous ways. It is making clear to many that it is the working class that keeps society running, not the CEOs of major corporations.

The results of austerity have been graphically demonstrated as public services strain to cope with the crisis.

The government has now ripped up its 'austerity' mantra and turned to policies that not long ago were denounced as socialist. But after the corona crisis, it will try to make the working class pay for it, by trying to claw back what has been given.

  • The Socialist Party's material is more vital than ever, so we can continue to report from workers who are fighting for better health and safety measures, against layoffs, for adequate staffing levels, etc.
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  • When the health crisis subsides, we must be ready for the stormy events ahead and the need to arm workers' movements with a socialist programme - one which puts the health and needs of humanity before the profits of a few.
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In The Socialist 21 April 2005:

Market madness wrecks NHS

Big business plunges NHS into crisis

Drive poverty pay out of the NHS

The Socialist Alternative

Save Rover

Renationalise Rover - change the system!

Renationalise London's tube

Private hands off public services!

Profits soar, wages fall in the globalised economy

A socialist world is necessary

  Nancy 'woos' voters with socialism

Socialist Party complains about imbalance in Newsnight

How red are the Greens?

When Blair ditched socialism from the Labour Party


 

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Related links:

Rover:

triangleObituary: Derek Robinson, car workers' leader, 1927-2017

triangleIs UK car building back in Top Gear?

PCS:

trianglePCS executive majority cancels union democracy

triangleJobcentre reopening: only union struggle will put safety first

triangleChange in leadership needed to secure union's future

triangleBenefits system being used to force return to unsafe workplaces

Jobs:

triangleWorkers and young people need planning for jobs, not handouts for bosses

triangleThem and us

triangle3bn green pledge: not enough for climate or jobs

Pensions:

triangle'Hands off our pensions!' demand angry Nissan workers

triangleTory think tank proposes attack on pensions

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