HONDA yesterday issued a closure statement in which Katsushi Inoue, Chief Officer for European Regional Operations, Honda Motor Co. Ltd., and President of Honda Motor Europe, said: ‘In light of the unprecedented changes that are affecting our industry, it is vital that we accelerate our electrification strategy and restructure our global operations accordingly.
‘As a result, we have had to take this difficult decision to consult our workforce on how we might prepare our manufacturing network for the future. This has not been taken lightly and we deeply regret how unsettling today’s announcement will be for our people.’
In fact, the Swindon plant is to close at the end of the current model’s production lifecycle, in 2021. Japan and the EU signed a no-tariffs trade deal in July and Honda is withdrawing production back to Japan and intends to ship its cars into Europe!
Ian Howells, senior vice-president for Honda in Europe, added concerning ‘investment’: ‘It has to be in a marketplace of a size for Honda where it makes investment worthwhile … that doesn’t include Swindon – the relative size of the marketplace in Europe is significantly different.’ Honda has also announced it will stop making the Civic at its plant in Turkey in 2021.
What is dominating the capitalist world economy is the massive developing banking and debt crisis, and the vicious all-out trade war that has broken out with the US ruling class seeking to bankrupt its former allies, and vice versa.
Chancellor Merkel announced in a Munich ‘security’ conference last Friday that she expects Washington to declare European car imports a ‘national security threat’. She called this prospect ‘frightening’.
She added that the US-led global order ‘has collapsed’. This was after US vice President Pence accused the EU of stabbing Ukraine in the back in order to have access to Russian oil and gas.
Meanwhile, leading figures in Brussels and Berlin are calling for retaliation if Trump imposes 25% duties and $340bn of sanctions over the next 90 days on the EU, and specifically on the German car industry.
The trade war showdown between America and the EU is now on! The German Economic Institute has told Merkel that the EU ‘must hit back hard’ with ‘painful measures’.
The Unite union said yesterday that it believes that the Honda plant in Swindon has a viable future and will campaign strongly to save the 3,500 jobs currently under threat.
Unite said that it will be entering into meaningful consultations with the Honda management to examine the business case for the factory’s future following confirmation by the company that the site will close in 2021.
Unite national officer for the automotive sector Des Quinn said: ‘We acknowledge the global challenges that Honda has outlined in its statement, but we don’t accept that this plant, with its highly skilled and dedicated workforce, does not have a viable future.
‘We are now entering a period of meaningful consultations with the management to examine in detail the business case put forward by the company. We will leave no stone unturned to keep this plant going and its workforce in employment.’
However, the bitter truth of the current economic and political crisis is that, with the trade war at its sharpest, what is left of UK industry will be wiped out by the crisis unless the UK quits the EU and the working class brings in a socialist planned economy to replace bankrupt UK capitalism.
In this case, actions must speak much louder than words. The UK trade unions must organise the occupation of the Honda plant, Nissan, the Vauxhall plants, Jaguar and the Tata steel plants to defend every job, and to demand that these plants are nationalised!
The UK ruling class of big bankers and bosses cannot be allowed to complete Thatcher’s plan to de-industrialise the UK, leaving only the big banks standing.
This is the time for the working class to make sure that the UK leaves the EU on March 29th and that it takes the power and establishes a planned socialist economy, to replace bankrupt capitalism with socialism.