The Socialist 9 October 2004 |
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CBI boss threatens Coventry workers
Don't Let The Fat Cats Bury The Big Cat
DIGBY JONES, the bosses' representative at the head of the CBI has warned
Jaguar workers not to "push water uphill". The Coventry Evening Telegraph
reported him as saying that: "Unions should recognise they could push Ford too
far". He warned them Ford could pull out of Britain if it felt workers were
"being too quick to suggest strike action".
Dave Griffiths, Coventry Socialist Party
This thinly veiled threat is aimed at keeping Jaguar workers quiet and
stopping them fighting back. Jones wants them to meekly accept their fate and
let Ford get away with its closures.
But being quiet is the last thing most Coventry people want to do. They
have had enough of the huge loss of jobs and manufacturing in Coventry. While
many fear the whims of multinationals like Ford, most feel it's "time to do
something". Every time the Socialist Party goes out petitioning there are
queues at stalls to oppose closure and discussion about what can be done.
With this mood, and the decision of Jaguar workers to fight the closure of
Brown's Lane, obviously the bosses fear the growing mood of opposition.
The Jaguar unions must urgently build on this huge potential support in
Coventry and the wider area. A mass movement could be developed to back the
Jag workers which would give the workers themselves more confidence in their
battle with Ford.
It is over two weeks since the end of car production here was announced and
action is needed through rallies and demonstrations and through meetings
seeking the support of other local trades unions and workplaces to keep the
support going and strengthen it.
The angry mood has led to pressure for the government to act. Unions say
they are pleased with the backing of both the Prime Minister and the
Chancellor of the Exchequer. Reports say they will call upon the company to
have further discussions with the workforce and community representatives,
including giving the trade unions the opportunity to present alternative
Union general secretaries Tony Woodley (TGWU), Derek Simpson (Amicus), and
Kevin Curran (GMB), said: "We believe the government will play a most
But this, in itself, is no guarantee of saving Brown's Lane and Jaguar's
future. All backing is welcome but workers should be wary of putting all their
eggs in one basket of an approach by Tony Blair or Gordon Brown to Ford.
This is only an appeal to hear alternative plans. It does not guarantee the
keeping of production here in Coventry. The government is also the same
government who has kept Tory anti-union laws that give greater freedoms to
companies like Ford to do what they are doing. The government also support and
encourage the global markets that have led to this situation. If Ford still
say there is no alternative what will be done then?
Vital to the success of any campaign to save jobs is that the strength of
workers should be mobilised. A key element of winning this fight is the
determination of the Jaguar workers themselves and the wider working-class
support they could enjoy were it organised. If Ford are to change their mind
it is this strength that will do it.
Ultimately, as long as big multinationals and the profit system dominate,
then proper planning of resources and production cannot happen and insecurity
will reign. Public ownership, under the democratic control and management of
Ford workers and the wider working class, is the only way the accumulated
skills and resources of plants like Brown's Lane can be used for the benefit
of all, not just the profits of a few.
DAVE NELLIST and Karen McKay, Socialist Party councillors on Coventry city
council presented a petition to the council on 23 September.
They demanded: Full support for the Jaguar trade unions in a determined
campaign to save jobs; The City Council to call a Town's Meeting to rally the
whole community behind Jaguar workers and their families; The trade union
movement to organise a national march and rally in Coventry in defence of
The Socialist Party has been campaigning every day and collecting thousands
more signatures to this petition. Support has also come in from other trade
Knowsley UNISON, for example, has recently passed a resolution condemning
the decision to end production at Brown's Lane and offering support and
solidarity to the Coventry unions fighting the closure.