spotCampaigns

spotOrganisations

spotArguments for socialism

spotPeople

spotInternational

spotEvents

spotAround the UK


All keywords


All Campaigns subcategories:

Anti-capitalism

Anti-fascist

Anti-racism

Anti-war

Asylum

Black and Asian

Children

CNWP

Corporate crime

Disability

Education

Election campaigns

Environment

EU

Finance

Food

Gender Recognition Act

Health and safety

Health and welfare

Housing

Human Rights

LGBT Pride

Local government

Local services

Low pay

Migration

Nationalisation

New workers party

NHS

Pensions

Post Office

Poverty

Privatisation

Public Services

Socialism

Socialist

Sport

Stop the slaughter of Tamils

Students

The state

Transport

TUSC

Welfare rights

Women

* Workplace and TU campaigns

Youth


Workplace and TU campaigns keywords:

35-hour week (21)

AUT (7)

Aer Lingus (6)

Agency workers (51)

Airport (52)

Amicus (53)

Argos (14)

Aslef (84)

BAA (2)

BBC (169)

BMW (26)

BT (50)

Besna (18)

Bin workers (74)

Blacklisting (105)

Bloc (3)

Bosch (2)

British Airways (76)

British Airways (76)

Burslem 12 (9)

Bus workers (77)

CWU (330)

Cadbury (7)

Cadbury-Schweppes (3)

Call Centres (18)

Car workers (42)

Care worker (12)

Care workers (72)

Civil Service (220)

Classroom assistants (8)

Cleaners (127)

Clyde (6)

Coastguards (7)

Compulsory redundancy (9)

Construction (247)

Construction workers (160)

Corus (37)

Council workers (146)

Crossrail (12)

DVLA (15)

DWP (174)

Dockers (23)

Docks (8)

Drivers (206)

EPIU (4)

Electricians (70)

FBU (228)

Firefighters (222)

Ford (105)

Fujitsu (15)

GMB (244)

Gate Gourmet (7)

General Motors (11)

Glaxo Smith Kline (1)

Health and safety (80)

Heinz (6)

Honda (19)

JCB (14)

JIB (7)

JJB Sports (4)

Jaguar (16)

Jane Norman (1)

Jarvis (9)

Jobcentre (50)

Jobs (1419)

Journalists (74)

LOR (15)

Lecturers (94)

Linamar (40)

Lindsey (41)

Lindsey Oil Refinery (29)

Local government (245)

London underground (144)

Lucas Aerospace (5)

Manufacturing (56)

Metro (36)

Metronet (13)

Milford Haven (8)

Miners (173)

NASUWT (53)

NUJ (64)

NUT (358)

Natfhe (10)

Nurses (131)

Oilc (4)

Outsourcing (61)

PCS (906)

POA (87)

People's Charter (1)

Peugeot (8)

Pfizer (8)

Port workers (4)

Postal dispute (27)

Postal workers (139)

Printers (2)

Prison officers (53)

RCN (25)

RMT (732)

Railworkers (10)

Redundancies (119)

Redundancy (34)

Refinery (36)

Remploy (51)

Reps (53)

Rover (31)

Saltend (20)

Seafarers (10)

Shelter (42)

Shipyard (10)

Shop Stewards (244)

Siemens (3)

Single status (30)

Sita (6)

Social workers (16)

Sodexo (9)

Stagecoach (26)

Staythorpe (1)

Steel (91)

Strike (3086)

Sunday trading (1)

Supermarket (35)

TGWU (59)

TSSA (47)

Teachers (479)

Textile (8)

Thomas Cook (3)

Total (16)

Toyota (1)

Trade Union Freedom Bill (4)

Trade union (591)

Trade unions (396)

Train drivers (31)

Tube Lines (5)

Tube workers (49)

Tubelines (3)

Twinings (2)

UCATT (29)

UCU (214)

Unfair dismissal (15)

Unions (953)

Unison (973)

Unison witchhunt (5)

Unite (842)

Usdaw (135)

Vauxhall (48)

Vestas (26)

Visteon (92)

Volkswagen (7)

Waterford Crystal (1)

Wedgwood (1)

Whipps Cross (61)

facility time (9)

BMW


Highlight keywords  |Print this articlePrint this article
From: The Socialist issue 793, 8 January 2014: Axe austerity in 2014

Search site for keywords: Car industry - Britain - Union - Sunderland - Manufacturing - Europe - Rover - Vauxhall - Dagenham - Jaguar - Honda - Car workers - Ford - GM - BMW

Is UK car building back in Top Gear?

The thoroughly reactionary but entertaining Jeremy Clarkson, on his Top Gear programme's Christmas special, tried to demonstrate that UK vehicle manufacturing was healthier than ever. In contrast, Idris Elba, actor in the Wire and Luther, went to Detroit to be taken around the waste land that is the American car industry.

Elba, in his Speed programme on BBC1, was a 'petrol head' like Clarkson, but at least he was interested in what had happened to the car workers. Elba had worked at the Ford Dagenham factory as a youth. His dad was a shop steward there for 25 years.

Clarkson boasted about the wide variety of vehicles being made today in the UK, filling up the Mall in London with them. But many of the cars on display were luxury brands such as Rolls Royces and Bentleys. These cars are far beyond the reach of working people and create relatively few jobs.

Clarkson tried to demonstrate as well that more cars were produced in Britain than ever before, claiming that the Nissan factory in Sunderland "made more cars than the whole of the Italian car industry".

But the cars made in Britain today are mainly made up of components shipped in from abroad. This is true in other countries, but it has gone much further in Britain than elsewhere.

Household supplier names that made up the British car industry have long disappeared. They employed tens of thousands of workers which were overwhelmingly unionised in the past. It is true that the vehicle industry employs over 700,000 workers, but these are mostly in the retail/service side of the industry and are generally not unionised and low paid.

The UK auto industry now directly employs 180,000 workers but compare that to the 775,000 in Germany and 220,000 in France (169,000 are directly employed in Italy).

All the main car factories are foreign owned, limiting possible political influence even if it was forthcoming from the Labour Party (which it isn't).

Nissan in Sunderland, Toyota in Derbyshire and Honda in Swindon are Japanese owned. The Mini production line in Cowley, Oxford is owned by German manufacturers BMW. Jaguar Land Rover in Solihull, Birmingham and Merseyside is owned by Tata, the Indian conglomerate, and Vauxhall Luton and Merseyside is owned by GM of America.

Anti-union

When the Japanese manufacturers moved into Britain in the 1980s they made sure that all likely trade union activists where weeded out before they got anywhere near the shop floor. A massive questionnaire was given to all job applicants, drawn up by anti-union management consultants.

It is not impossible to organise from below in these factories as National Shop Steward's Network supporters have shown, but it is a long process.

There was extreme management control of the production process, which generally meant that it was younger workers who could last the pace.

Clarkson has exaggerated in his comparison of Sunderland Nissan and Italy, especially as Italian car maker Fiat has just bought up the 41% of US 'big four' auto firm Chrysler that it didn't already own.

Sixteen million cars were made in Europe in 2007 before the world economic crash. But in 2014, production is still expected to be at least 20% lower due to the impact of the banking crisis. Motor manufacturers have moved much of their production from Europe to East Asia.

Clarkson's programme put a false gloss on British manufacturing; looking through rose tinted glasses for the future of British capitalism. But the main campaign of all international capitalist car producers is to play off workers of one country against another in a race to the bottom for pay and conditions.

Jeremy Clarkson's programme was part of that reactionary campaign.


Inflated sales?

The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders has boasted that UK new car sales for 2013 were the highest since 2007, with 2.26 million vehicles registered.

However, around 74.5% of new cars are being bought on credit, which audit firms have called "unsustainable".

Credit deals often mean drivers never really own a vehicle, but rent it before being offered to exchange it for another new car.

Car figures have also been boosted by people spending PPI compensation money and record high pre-registrations, where cars are registered to a non-existent buyer in order to then sell them at a lower 'used' cost.







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

LATEST POSTS

CONTACT US

Phone our national office on 020 8988 8777

Email: info@socialistparty.org.uk

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

Regional Socialist Party organisers:

Eastern: 0798 202 1969

East Mids: 0773 797 8057

London: 020 8988 8786

North East: 0784 114 4890

North West 07954 376 096

South East: 020 8988 8777

South West: 07759 796 478

Southern: 07833 681910

Wales: 07935 391 947

West Mids: 02476 555 620

Yorkshire: 0114 264 6551

ABOUT US

ARCHIVE

Alphabetical listing


September 2019

August 2019

July 2019

June 2019

May 2019

April 2019

March 2019

February 2019

January 2019

2018

2017

2016

2015

2014

2013

2012

2011

2010

2009

2008

2007

2006

2005

2004

2003

2002

2001

2000

1999