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From The Socialist newspaper, 5 June 2009

Vauxhall jobs threat - unions must organise a fightback

UP TO 5,500 jobs are at risk at the Vauxhall plants in Ellesmere Port in Merseyside and in Luton, as a result of the bankruptcy of Vauxhall's parent company General Motors (GM) in the USA.

Bill Mullins

If Vauxhall was to shut then thousands of other jobs in the supply sector would also be at risk.

GM (which employs nearly 250,000 people in the USA) has effectively been nationalised by the Obama government because of the fear of the US ruling class that letting it collapse altogether would affect millions of jobs and have serious political and social repercussions in that country.

Obama has been forced to inject $60 billion into GM (giving his administration 60% control of GM), which along with another $9.5 billion from the Canadian government, puts a total of 72% - of what was once a prestigious company of US capitalism - into state hands.

In Europe, the German government too have been forced to intervene to stop Opel (as GM is known in Germany) going bust, threatening over 25,000 Opel jobs and tens of thousands more in the supply industry.

The German government is backing a takeover of Opel by the Canadian company Magna with a government loan of $2 billion.

It is quite clear that the German government has done this only because Magna has promised to keep the German plants open (even if there are some job losses).

This leaves Vauxhall's two British factories, along with the Belgium GM assembly plant in Antwerp, at high risk of closure.

The Unite trade union has condemned the UK government's business secretary, Lord Mandelson, as not being sufficiently involved in the Berlin negotiations which have resulted in the agreement for restructuring GM's European operations. But surely the issue here is not whether the British government should be involved but what the union is calling for.

Unite, as the main car workers' union in Britain, throughout this crisis and similar crises in the past (Rover, etc), have not even called for what Obama has been forced to do, which is the nationalisation of GM.

(Though Obama only did this after he got the American unions to accept huge cut backs in health and pensions of the existing workforce and those already retired!)

What Unite should be doing - instead of just bleating that 'Mandy has not been involved enough' - is putting forward a programme to mobilise their members in the affected plants.

Namely:

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In The Socialist 5 June 2009:

Action to defend union rights

Visteon pensioners battle on

Vauxhall jobs threat - unions must organise a fightback


Workplace news and analysis

Royal Mail sell-off - Time for action!

Fast news

Tube workers vote to strike

Bristol refuse workers strike

Battling against the blacklist

Glasgow care workers' success


Socialist Party election campaign

Prepare now for next election challenge

European elections: Putting forward a workers' alternative

A Question Time carve up

Challenge these disgraced MPs

A Parliament of celebrities and a speaker of integrity


Youth

Aston University socialists fight for student democracy

Sussex University: Save Linguistics campaign

Socialist youth conference and protest

Youth Fight for Jobs: Fortnight of action 27 June to 10 July


Socialist Party feature

NATO anniversary: 60 years of aggression and terror


Socialist Party review

The Frock-Coated Communist: the revolutionary life of Friedrich Engels


Marxist analysis: history

Tiananmen Square 1989: Counter-revolution crushes China's democracy movement


 

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