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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."
In The Socialist 21 April 2005: