THE UK’s biggest car manufacturer, Vauxhall, with plants in Ellesmere Port and Luton, has admitted its more than 5,000 jobs are under massive threat from the financial crisis and the slump.
The owner, General Motors, has already gone cap in hand to the Bush administration to tell it that it needs £3bn this month to pay wages to keep its plants from closing. On top of this, the ‘Big Three’, GM, Ford and Chrysler, require another $34bn in bail-out money from Bush.
Vauxhall has stated that these negotiations are ‘highly relevant’ to the UK, while it has issued a denial – that is not being taken seriously – that it has approached the Labour government for the cash to keep its two sites in Ellesmere Port and Luton open.
Last October, the Vauxhall car plant in Ellesmere Port, Cheshire, stopped production for 14 days because of falling sales in Europe.
The company, along with other British-based car-makers and trade body, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, met Business Secretary Lord Mandelson on November 27.
The Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (BERR) has confirmed ‘financial solutions’, including bridging loans for the companies, were discussed at the meeting.
There is no doubt that the fate of workers in Ellesmere Port and Luton is the last thing on the minds of GM and the US administration, with GM facing bankruptcy and the administration seeing 533,000 unemployed deducted from US non-farming payrolls in November.
GM will shut its UK factories, while the Brown government, at the most, will repeat the way that the Blair-Brown government dealt with the MG Rover Longbridge crisis in 2005, give it a bridging loan to carry it over for a couple of weeks and then let it close.
GM workers in Ellesmere Port and Luton must occupy their plants and mount a national campaign for them to be nationalised under workers’ control. This is the only way that they will be able to keep their jobs.
There is not the slightest doubt that, to take this course of action, GM workers will have to fight and remove their Unite trade union leadership.
Simpson and Woodley, when at the head of the Amicus and TGWU unions, allowed the break-up of the Rover group in 2001. This was after 100,000 workers marched through Birmingham and were more than ready to fight.
They then sold out the Luton Vauxhall Motors workers in 2002, agreeing to the closure of their plant while thousands of workers were fighting to keep it open, and after there had been EU-wide strike action to keep the plant open.
The duo continued to agree with the Blair-Brown government that it should not give long-term financial support or nationalise MG Rover Longbridge in 2005.
In 2008-9, they will be arguing that the Vauxhall workers should accept wage cuts, speed-ups and mass sackings in order to keep the semblance of motor car production in Ellesmere Port and/or Luton.
Workers must set out to win the fight for jobs.
There is only one way to do this. This is reject all sackings, wage cuts or closures and to occupy the plants, and organise national strike action to win their nationalisation under workers’ control.
There is not a moment to lose in waging this struggle.
We must not forget that the closure of Vauxhall Luton was announced at exactly the same time of the year in 2002, just before Christmas.
• No wage cuts, sackings or closures!
• Occupy the car plants and organise national strike action to demand their nationalisation under workers’ control!
• Bring down the Brown government – forward to a workers’ government!