Nationalise LDV and the motor car industry

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LDV, the Birmingham van factory said yesterday it would continue to look for funding until 6 May when it is due to formally go into administration, terminating the jobs of 900 workers.

On November 15, LDV announced a 10 per cent cut in the workforce.

In March, buy-out plans were presented to staff who voted to accept a 10% pay cut in support of the plan, as advised by the Unite trade union.

On April 28, LDV applied to enter administration.

The Unite trade union has reacted to the administration announcement with a statement saying ‘Unless the government acts to provide a small but vital aid package of just £4 million, barely a year’s bonus for a bailed-out banker, then LDV will go into administration on May 6th – and take with it thousands of jobs in our manufacturing heartland. Once gone, these jobs will be gone forever. . . .

‘With so many skilled jobs at risk and with a genuine possibility of a buyer, if this company goes to the wall for the want of a relatively small amount of money, then it would be criminal. . . . While the measure of assistance to LDV that government has given so far has been fully appreciated, there must be no dilly-dallying, no dithering but instead immediate action to keep these jobs and skills alive.’ 

In fact Unite, while labelling Labour’s failure to supply LDV with £4 million to keep going as ‘criminal’, is a firm supporter of the government and has even given the Labour Party £11 million to stop it going bankrupt.

It also remains in support of the government and refuses to demand that the government nationalises LDV and all threatened sections of the motor car industry, as the only way to defend the thousands of jobs that are under threat.

It also accepts bourgeois legality and refuses to call, or officially support, the occupation of car plants that are threatened with closure.

Recently it sent a barrister to the law courts where the Visteon Enfield occupiers had been summoned to either give up their occupation or face jail, to state that Unite would see to it that the occupation was ended.

This it duly did. Fortunately workers that are occupying the Belfast Visteon plant have refused to allow this to happen in their case, and are still occupying.

The Unite leaders are determined to make an alliance with the bosses. This is why they have ditched socialist policies. They are supporting the demands of Lord Digby Jones for the government to pay for two-day week short-time working for the whole of the working class, a bosses’ policy that will see workers’ families starving.

In fact, on the question of state ownership the Unite leaders are to the right of the General Motors bosses. So desperate are they that they have urged the US administration to take a 50 per cent plus share in the giant company.

Under the company’s plan, the US treasury and the United Auto Workers’ union would get 89% of the company between them.

The Unite leadership is unable to face up to some simple but vital facts. The banking system has been bankrupted and the GM demand to be nationalised proves that the back of the capitalist system has been broken.

If capitalism continues, ahead is a major slump and war, both at home against the working class and abroad to redivide the world.

The only way to defend jobs is to occupy plants that are threatened with closure and use the power of the unions to see that they are nationalised. This means being prepared to remove the Brown government and bring in a workers government.

Occupation is illegal by bourgeois law, as are general strikes to defend and secure jobs. This is why the trade union leaders will have nothing to do with these policies.

Mass unemployment, hunger, and homelessness are entirely legal. The policy of the trade union leaders is to accept these evils, as part and parcel of capitalism.

This is why they must go and be replaced by a revolutionary socialist leadership that is not afraid to carry out this struggle.