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From The Socialist newspaper, 18 February 2009

Car workers' jobs slaughter - begin the fightback!

In response to the crisis in Britain's car industry, where thousands of job losses have been announced and thousands of other workers have been temporarily laid off for weeks at a time, the National Shop Stewards Network (NSSN) hosted a very encouraging meeting in Birmingham on 14 February.

Linda Taaffe, secretary NSSN

Workers and stewards from Ford, Honda, Jaguar, Dana, TRW (ex Lucas) JCB and Linemar (ex Visteon and ex Fords) came together with other NSSN members to discuss what can be done.

The discussion revealed the real brutality of the car companies' management, who are trying to make workers pay for the crisis. Different pay levels exist for "down time" in different factories. Some workers are even forced to "pay back" by working for free! Some end up with no pay at all.

Meanwhile trade union officials keep workers in the dark about what is going on, and even about what is going on in other car factories, like walk-outs and similar successes. No wonder some officials come in for flak from shop-floor workers.

The prospect of tens of thousands of jobs being shed in the car and related industries has, for the moment, left car workers somewhat stunned. The speed and scale of the downturn has been so dramatic.

At the same time the bosses know where they are going, as one worker pointed out. Why would Honda insist on upping car production by 34% when sales indicated only a 3% increase last year? Filling the car parks to undermine the workers' response?

And how can companies like Ford cry poverty and threaten to shut the Southampton Transit plant, throwing 1,200 out of work, when Ford made 1 billion across Europe? And when their bosses' combined salaries of 100 million is exactly equal to what's needed to keep this plant open?

Car workers and their families cannot contemplate a life on the dole and no jobs for the future generation in order that bosses maintain their profits. The closure of plants will have a devastating effect on some areas. The mood of the meeting was to waste no time and get organised now.

We decided that the NSSN, in conjunction with car workers, would begin to build a fightback - with the backing of the unions where possible.

To punch home this message we will need thousands of workers to get involved, but all agreed to start here and now. We decided to reach out to all the other car factories with these ideas, and campaign to save jobs, involving local communities where possible.

We will also try to open out and extend the Southampton Ford workers' campaign by organising a car workers' lobby of MPs as soon as possible. We will call for a car workers' contingent on the TUC demo for the G20 summit on 28 March and try to make contact with fellow car workers in Europe.

The NSSN will facilitate keeping everyone informed, and create a campaign website where car workers can post what is happening in their factory and get information from other factories.

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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.
  • Our 'fighting coronavirus workers' charter', outlines a programme to combat the virus and protect workers' living conditions.
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In The Socialist 18 February 2009:

Fight back now to stop job cuts

Anger as jobs slashed with an hour's notice

Car workers' jobs slaughter - begin the fightback!

Defend every job on the tube

Construction workers protest: Staythorpe power station

Isle of Grain picket

Meeting on Lindsey oil refinery dispute: Workers strike back

Why the bosses don't want an organised workforce


Socialist Students

Stop fees

Students protest against attacks on Gaza

'Books not Bombs' at Nottingham

Concessions won at Queen Mary university


Socialist Party editorial

New Labour in blind panic

Regulators resign over financial meltdown


Sport

London Olympics battered by economic crisis


Socialist Party campaigns

Yahya must stay Defend Saudi Arabian trade unionist from deportation

Coventry: Hands off our youth services!

Political vendetta against Tommy Sheridan

Wirral cuts: Fighting 'cultural terrorism'

Fast news


Socialist Party feature

Defend the welfare state


International socialist news and analysis

Israel: Election results indicate a deepening political crisis

Costa Rica: Urgent solidarity action for unionists


Socialist Party workplace news and analysis

Manchester Unison elections: Left candidates well supported

Usdaw presidential election: The campaign they tried to hide

Usdaw Activist public meeting

Fight the Unison witch-hunt

Launch of new broad left for Unite


 

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Related links:

Car workers:

triangleHonda bosses confirm closure: Unite must signal it will fight

triangleFrance '68: History's greatest general strike erupts

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

triangleBosses' pensions robbery

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Pay:

triangleCampaign stalls on jobs, pay, NHS and racism

triangleWhat would socialist universities look like?

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trianglePCS union: Reject longer DWP opening hours

NSSN:

triangleFantastic virtual NSSN conference: "Fight for our lives and livelihoods''

triangleCome to the NSSN conference

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Ford:

triangleRatcliffe rats on Bridgend workers

triangleAusterity anger feeds movement for Welsh independence

National Shop Stewards Network:

triangleGE Aviation workers march to save jobs

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