CAR WORKERS in Britain face job cuts, long lay-offs and increased short-time working. Nissan, Jaguar Land Rover and other car manufacturers have all cut jobs. The recession-hit ‘British’ car industry (mainly foreign-owned companies) is suffering from reduced production and considerably lower sales.
The car multinationals have been asking for a bailout of £13 billion. The trade union leaders have backed them in this call.
But last week government minister Lord Mandelson announced a ‘major package’ of aid for the industry – just £1 billion of direct loans plus guarantees of £1.3 billion of loans from the European Investment Bank. It’s way short of what they were asking for and far below the handouts bestowed on Britain’s failed banking institutions.
Union leaders say it is not nearly enough – half of it would be taken up by Vauxhall and Jaguar Land Rover alone with next to nothing for the smaller component companies also threatened with disaster.
This is true, but the trade union leaders should not back the car bosses’ demands, which are primarily to satisfy their own interests rather than those of their workforce. US experience shows that demands for state aid to private auto firms go alongside demands from the bosses and government for cuts in wages and conditions.
Trade unionists should raise the demand for the nationalisation of all car plants at risk of closure. These plants should then be run under democratic workers’ control and management to produce goods needed by society as a whole and to meet workers’ and consumers’ needs rather than the profits that are ruling and destroying industry under capitalism.