Link to this page: https://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/566/6884
Fight for jobs at Ford
Short-time working at Ford Dagenham has been a hard blow to take for the 5,000 workers at the east London plant. Temporary workers were sacked before Christmas. Shift work has been cut back. The announcement that between 500 and 800 jobs are under threat at the Transit plant in Southampton fuelled concern that Dagenham workers could be next.
One problem, of course, is that the workers are always the last to know, kept in the dark by management secrecy. But the news on 5 February that Ford will not sanction the national pay deal agreed last November has sparked an angry response.
Most people now agree that we are in the worst economic crisis since the 1930s. Such an extreme situation requires drastic measures. It is not enough for ministers to offer loans or subsidies to company directors. Long-term solutions have to be found.
If the Ford Motor Company claims it can't afford to keep the workers on full pay, then it should be nationalised, and the books opened to show where the profits and human resources have been squandered. The workers' skills should belong to society as a whole not to individual bosses.
If there is no immediate need for the goods currently produced at Dagenham, production lines should be modified to produce other useful goods. During the second world war, factory production was shifted almost overnight towards munitions and combat vehicles.
Plan of production
In today's crisis, similar resolve and ingenuity has to be turned towards developing skills and keeping people in employment, with the workers involved in drawing up a plan of maintenance and production, based on the wider needs of society.
Today's Dagenham workforce, in body stamping and diesel engine production, is all that remains of what used to be Europe's largest car factory, employing up to 25,000 workers in its heyday. These workers are the lifeblood of Dagenham, crucial to the wider east London economy.
If they were to go, along with thousands of sub-contractors and ancillary staff, an already impoverished area would be dealt a body blow. No one knows what senior management's plans are, except that they are dominated by the drive to make money. The fight for jobs at the factory, on the other hand, is the concern of every working-class person in east London.
In The Socialist 11 February 2009:
Socialist Party youth and students
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