THE Alchemy Partners gang of asset-strippers have got Land Rover and Jaguar in their sights, now that cash-strapped Ford is ready to sell off the two prestigious companies.
The trade union leaders of the TGWU and Amicus, now together in Unite, were first of all absolutely incredulous that Ford should be cashing in its British assets.
They have now gone from incredulity to fear at what damage the asset-stripping venture capitalist companies will do to the remnants of the British motor industry, and to the jobs and wages of up to 20,000 workers, as they loot the companies.
No doubt the trade union bureaucracy will plump to do what the UAW in the US has done as far as the sale of Chrysler to venture capitalists Cerberus is concerned – question it, accept it, and then welcome it as the only show in town.
Once it was explained to UAW President Ron Gettelfinger by Dr. Dieter Zetsche, Chairman of the Board of Management of DaimlerChrysler AG, that the status quo for the Chrysler Group was no longer an option, Gettelfinger concluded ‘that the transaction with Cerberus is in the best interest of our membership, the Chrysler Group and Daimler.’
However, yesterday Dave Osborne, national officer of the Unite union, said Unite’s ‘prime concern’ was the job security of workers.
Jaguar has over 10,000 staff at sites in Coventry, Birmingham and Liverpool, while Land Rover employs about 9,000 in the West Midlands and Warwickshire.
Jon Moulton, the chairman and founder of Alchemy Partners, also spoke up yesterday. He said that there was uncertainty surrounding jobs at the two firms and the unions should be worried.
He said that ‘At the moment it is absolutely anybody’s guess what the medium and long-term situation will be for jobs in those plants,’ adding that there was interest from US private equity firms, such as Apollo, Cerberus and Blackstone.
He was said to be preparing the trade union leaders for thousands of redundancies as the price of ‘rescue’ by the venture capitalists.
After the MG Rover debacle, Land Rover and Jaguar workers know that if they do not fight for the jobs that they have now, they face permanent unemployment for years ahead, since they do not fit into a cheap labour economy.
This means that the TGWU and the Amicus trade unions must be made to defend every job, and every wage packet at the two plants.
Instead of having to decide which group of venture capitalists the trade unions will support the companies being handed over to, the union leaderships must be made to demand and fight for the nationalisation of Land Rover and Jaguar under workers’ control.
The whole movement must be mobilised for this struggle, starting with the occupation of both plants and the mounting of a national campaign of marches, demonstrations and strike actions to demand nationalisation.
As part of this campaign Unite must insist that its candidate for the deputy leadership of the Labour Party, and all of the MPs who are sponsored by both the TGWU and Amicus must raise and fight for this demand.
The downsizing of these two companies by venture capitalists will be a massive blow at the working class in this country, and herald the end of Britain as a manufacturing country, with all its implications for wages, jobs and the standard of living of millions of workers.
With the annual conference of Amicus taking place next week, the TGWU Biennial Conference taking place in July and the TUC Congress in September, there is a big opportunity for mobilising the whole of the working class for this fight.
The TGWU and Amicus conferences must decide on an occupation of the plants while the TUC Congress must call a general strike to secure the nationalisation of Land Rover and Jaguar. This will mean bringing down the Brown government to go forward to a workers government that will carry out socialist policies