Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page:

From The Socialist newspaper, 24 February 2009

Car industry in crisis: Death of jobs by a thousand cuts

Car components firm GKN has announced the closure of two of its plants in the West Midlands. This will mean 323 direct job losses. Dave Griffiths spoke to Pete Bradley, a GKN worker and a member of the Amicus section of Unite, before the latest cuts announcement.

WHERE I work our production has reduced by 62%, that's two shifts lost out of the three-shift system. I usually work permanent nights on maintenance. Twice recently, news of redundancies and factory closures has appeared on the regional news. This has left me shocked and worried that I would be going in that night to very bad news.

One night, the managing director met the workforce and denied the reports and promised us that if we were to be closed or made redundant we would hear it from him first. What came next? Management on the TV news talking about redundancies!

In October all overtime was stopped, and on 10 November, we were called to a meeting and told that from that night we would be on short time or 'stand down time' as they called it.

We would have to stand down for seven hours each week. Some cells in the area that I work will not be running at all and 'surplus employees' will be going into another factory. We are divided into four factories, three manufacturing parts and one that puts them all together.

I'm still trying to understand what 'stand down' means. Roughly it means we will still be fully paid until we total 60 hours stand down, which we will 'owe' the company. Anything above that, our pay is cut.

We held a union meeting with the nightshift senior steward and discussed the implications of it - obviously we preferred short time to redundancies. The question was asked: "What if we are made redundant during that time?" The reply: "You will owe nothing!"

This is now denied by the union, they now say we will have to pay everything over the 60 hours. So we are funding our own redundancy!

My area decided it would be best if we had three Thursday nights in four off. But the senior steward went to other areas and said we had already voted for leaving early.

But who wants to leave work at 4.45am? Workers with families get home and fear waking their partner and family. Also, if you don't complete a shift you lose 30 shift pay, by leaving early we lose that each time.


The agreement between management and unions is that we will lose seven hours per week and any other stand down days will be added as and when required. So for the first 60 hours lost we will be paid, less the shift pay for those 60 hours. If we leave, volunteer for redundancy, we pay it back. Those that remain will still owe the company the 60 hours pay, but after 12 months it will be wiped off.

Every hour over the 60 hours lost will be banked and we will lose a maximum of 280 per month. Are you confused? We are, and we have to try and work out how much money we will be picking up each month.

On top of this we have arrived into work to be told that we are not needed for the rest of the week. We never know what hours we are going to work and how much money we are going to pick up.

The GKN board are also trying to change the pension agreements. The majority of the workforce have 25+ years service and are over 50 years of age. They want to go and leave jobs for the younger ones. Several of the younger ones have little service and are worried if they are made redundant, how much they have got to pay back. Will they owe the company money? There are many workers fed up and disillusioned.

To top all this we read about Lord Mandelson having talks with the bosses of the automotive industry, and the lavish meals.

The industry chiefs asked for 13 billion and he offered 1 billion in direct loans and 1.36 billion in other loans. Where will the money go? How much will I and my comrades that work in the industry get? When the industry picks up, how will the loans be paid back? I think the answer to that one will be - with job losses!

The capitalist Labour government are only interested in bailing out the capitalist banking system. The working class can suffer while the pathetic bosses give humble, meaningless apologies. My income has halved from last year and I am left owing the company money.

Donate to the Socialist Party

Coronavirus crisis - Finance appeal

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.
  • When the health crisis subsides, we must be ready for the stormy events ahead and the need to arm workers' movements with a socialist programme - one which puts the health and needs of humanity before the profits of a few.
Inevitably, during the crisis we have not been able to sell the Socialist and raise funds in the ways we normally would.
We therefore urgently appeal to all our viewers to donate to our special coronavirus appeal.

Please donate here.

All payments are made through a secure server.

My donation


Your message: 


In The Socialist 24 February 2009:

No Job Cuts

Organise to defend jobs

Car industry in crisis: Death of jobs by a thousand cuts

Jobs protest continues

Workers march for jobs in Cardiff

Fight to save Royal Mail

Campaign for a New Workers Party

What do union members get from Labour link?

International socialist news and analysis

Ireland: workers say 'We won't pay for your crisis'

General strike movement grips island of Guadeloupe

Kashmir: Health workers take strike action

Marxist analysis: history

Iran 1979: A revolution that was taken from the working class


ECB suffers Stanford hangover

Socialist Party campaigns

Defend Yahya Al Faifi campaign

BNP bigots retreat under pressure

Greenwich: "Hands off my school"

Look at the gravy train!

Devon residents against incinerators

Socialist Party workplace news

Leeds journalists strike against job cuts

Successful launch for United Left

Manchester Unison: Good vote for left

Protest at the Unison witch-hunt - date change


Home   |   The Socialist 24 February 2009   |   Join the Socialist Party

Subscribe   |   Donate  

Related links:

Car industry:

triangleNationalise Ford to prevent closure

triangleUnions must fight and demand nationalisation to save thousands of car industry jobs

triangleCar workers strike at BMW in defence of pensions

triangleCourt slams Tory air quality plans

triangleReview: 'On the Track' by Bill Mullins


triangleAfter Scottish government U-turn, Young Socialists fight for a future on A-Level results day

triangleA-level results day 2020: Fight for our future!

triangleCampaign stalls on jobs, pay, NHS and racism

triangleGE Aviation workers march to save jobs


triangleSocialist Party & Unison NEC member Hugo Pierre (centre), alongside others, taking part in the 8 August health workers' protests for a 15% pay increase. Photo Sarah SE

triangleWhat would socialist universities look like?

triangleWorkplace news in brief


triangleDebenhams: Fighting closures and redundancies

triangleWorkers' union and campaign group fights Derby Rolls-Royce job cuts


triangleAnniversary of nuclear destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki

Reports and campaigns

Reports and campaigns


Young Socialists

After Scottish government U-turn, Young Socialists fight for a future on A-Level results day



'First you clap us then you slap us'


Young Socialists

Young Socialist day of action


Socialist Party

Campaign stalls on jobs, pay, NHS and racism


Black Lives Matter

North London: Socialist Party speaks at BLM protest



Engage for Change Hull - trade union youth festival goes online


Socialist Party

Why I joined - Covid changed my outlook


Socialist Party

Socialist Party meetings: Online and in-person


Young Socialists

A-level results day 2020: Fight for our future!



GE Aviation workers march to save jobs



80 years since the murder of Leon Trotsky rally



Fighting to end racism and capitalism



Doncaster: Vigil for murdered women


The Socialist

The Socialist summer schedule



Unite union branch pledges to support socialist candidates who oppose cuts

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



Phone our national office on 020 8988 8777


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

Regional Socialist Party organisers:

Eastern: 079 8202 1969

East Mids: 077 3797 8057

London: 075 4018 9052

North East: 078 4114 4890

North West 079 5437 6096

South West: 077 5979 6478

Southern: 078 3368 1910

Wales: 079 3539 1947

West Mids: 024 7655 5620

Yorkshire: 077 0671 0041



Alphabetical listing

August 2020

July 2020

June 2020

May 2020

April 2020

March 2020

February 2020

January 2020