Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page: https://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/409/4652

From The Socialist newspaper, 29 September 2005

Anger grows amongst industrial workers

THE GATE Gourmet struggle in Heathrow Airport has been a massive issue for thousands of trade unionists this summer. However, two other lesser-known disputes have lifted the lid on the mood of workers on the shop-floor of British industry.

Almost at the same time in July, there were unofficial walkouts in two factories because of the suspension of convenors and shop stewards.

As reported in the socialist over the last few weeks, the convenor in Rolls Royce in Bristol, Jerry Hicks was suspended and then sacked after a walkout at the plant.

Unfortunately, Jerry's campaign for re-instatement was ultimately defeated.

In Ford's Leamington foundry, workers walked out for two days after four senior shop stewards, including the convenor, were suspended on the grounds of a supposed offensive email. Many workers believe that the real background to the company's action was the overwhelming vote by the workforce against the management's budget plan last year.

Outbursts

These outbursts and others in many factories up and down the country, reflect an increasingly explosive mood amongst many industrial workers.

The defeat of the miners in 1985 opened the way for a managerial counter-offensive in British industry. Many right-wing trade union leaders preached the virtues of partnership with management. But in reality this was a cover for passivity in the face of a sustained attack on workers in manufacturing industry.

For much of the late 1980s and 1990s, this was disguised by decent pay deals for those left in work (often linked to productivity or efficiency deals), and better retirement packages for an older section of workers.

The new century however, has seen a much more vicious attack, with many age-old certainties under threat from management methods often imported from the USA.

Workers are continually threatened with low-wage countries to extract more concessions. Increasingly, especially in the car industry, there has been a ruthless increase in the super-exploitation of workers in a desperate bid to boost profits.

Companies such as General Motors and Ford spun off their component manufacturing (as Delphi and Visteon respectively) between 1999-2000 to allow them to give those workers 'special treatment' such as two and now three-tier wages and outsourcing of indirect jobs.

Viable

These spun-off companies were never going to be viable businesses. In the USA, Delphi has given the unions an ultimatum. They have to agree to $2.5 billion-worth of cuts by mid October or the company goes into 'Chapter 11', a form of administration.

Visteon has almost halved in size, with 24 plants being transferred to a Ford-owned holding company, with the threat of being sold off in two years time.

Now the attention has focused on Western Europe and particularly UK plants. It appears that Visteon is threatening unions with a vicious cost-cutting shopping list which would mean an end to the Ford 'mirrored terms'. This covers those workers who were Ford employees at the time of spin-off.

With these companies, like many others, the threat of Longbridge is there - workers made redundant with the pittance of 7,000 and a drastically reduced pension. But these are not phantoms like Phoenix.

Ford and GM may create these artificial companies but they are part and parcel of giant multi-national corporations, built on the sweat of thousands of workers world-wide.

The real lesson of Rover was that there was an opportunity for the unions to lead direct action, such as an occupation of the plant, to force either a real future or at least their proper redundancy terms.

The magnificent solidarity action by the baggage handlers in the Gate Gourmet dispute stopped the world for two days and could have won a victory.

This summer has seen the further trickle of jobs away in British manufacturing.

The prospect has even be raised that in twenty years, not one industrial job will be left! The increase in tension, with its few blow-outs has shown that the squeezing of workers can reach its limits.

The job of trade union activists is to outline a programme of action to offer a way forward. The last major centres of industry may depend on it.

Why not click here to join the Socialist Party, or click here to donate to the Socialist Party.


In The Socialist 29 September 2005:

NHS in danger

Labour's great NHS sell-off

Waiting for Gordon

Where are the Lib Dems going?

Anger at occupation of Iraq

Fight for free education

Don't sell off Peabody homes!

Anger grows amongst industrial workers

Morrison's join the 'race to the bottom'

Witch-hunt in Amicus as merger nears

Poland: Right-wing parties win election


 

Home   |   The Socialist 29 September 2005   |   Join the Socialist Party

Subscribe   |   Donate  




Related links:

Reports and campaigns

Reports and campaigns

20/2/18

Manchester

After 80 strike days Mears workers achieve victory

19/2/18

Walthamstow

Building the campaign against clearances of the working class

16/2/18

Haringey

No fudge with the right wing

15/2/18

TUSC

TUSC statement on sentencing of Derby TUSC agent

14/2/18

Haringey

Haringey protests HDV - but Labour fails to kill it off completely

14/2/18

UCU

Uni strike: coordinate public sector fightback

14/2/18

Cardiff

Enjoyable and successful Cardiff Refugee Rights gig

14/2/18

Carlisle

Carlisle debate - socialism or social democracy?

14/2/18

Firefighters

Staines fire services saved

14/2/18

Surrey

Threat of action defeats pay cut at Surrey council

14/2/18

Woolwich

Woolwich Crossrail walkouts to demand promised bonuses

14/2/18

London

Sadiq Khan's bus drivers' London licence doesn't go far enough

14/2/18

Mansfield

Stop press: victory - campaign saves NHS rehab ward

8/2/18

Newham

Teachers strike again as anti-academy pressure mounts

7/2/18

Unison

Unison national women's conference

triangleMore Reports and campaigns articles...


Join the Socialist Party
Subscribe to Socialist Party publications
Donate to the Socialist Party
Socialist Party Facebook page
Socialist Party on Twitter
Visit us on Youtube

LATEST POSTS

CONTACT US

Phone our national office on 020 8988 8777

Email: info@socialistparty.org.uk

Locate your nearest Socialist Party branch Text your name and postcode to 07761 818 206

Regional Socialist Party organisers:

Eastern: 0798 202 1969

East Mids: 0773 797 8057

London: 020 8988 8786

North East: 0191 421 6230

North West 07769 611 320

South East: 020 8988 8777

South West: 07759 796 478

Southern: 07833 681910

Wales: 07935 391 947

West Mids: 02476 555 620

Yorkshire: 0114 264 6551

ABOUT US

ARCHIVE

Alphabetical listing


February 2018

January 2018

2017

2016

2015

2014

2013

2012

2011

2010

2009

2008

2007

2006

2005

2004

2003

2002

2001

2000

1999