THERE were no questions allowed at the Unite TUC fringe meeting in Liverpool on Tuesday evening evening, so determined was the Woodley-Simpson leadership that the dreaded word ‘nationalisation’ would not be mentioned in connection with saving the jobs of thousands of Ellesmere Port and Luton car workers.
The Unite leadership had nothing at all to offer their members or anybody else, except a tale that thousands of workers are going to be robbed of their jobs by some German-Russian conspiracy, and by cheques that were signed for unlimited amounts, in order that Merkel could win the forthcoming German general election.
The only solution, that was on offer, to this act of robbery, was for workers to place all of their faith and hopes, not in the power of the union or the power of the working class to change the situation, but in Lord Mandelson, who, the meeting was told, was ‘working his socks off for us’.
How low the movement has fallen when it is powerless (as far as the Unite leaders are concerned) and the only hope of the workers resides with Lord Mandelson!
The real situation is that the Unite leaders are in bed with the Brown government, and since this is where they are really comfortable, they have not the slightest intention of using the power of the union to fight for their members’ jobs, in case it spoils their love affair with Brown and Mandelson.
This is why they will not defend a single job.
They did not defend the jobs at the LDV van company and they will not defend them at Luton or at Ellesmere Port.
Their policy is to get down on their knees before ex-CBI boss Lord Digby Jones and the Brown-Mandelson government, and to plead with them.
The logic of their reformist politics is, when the chips are down, they would prefer the two plants be closed rather than see the workers occupying them, and the union organising a national campaign to see them nationalised, and taking on and defeating the Labour government to achieve nationalisation.
Woodley in fact has a record of organising or agreeing to plant closures, whether it be BMW Rover in 2000, Vauxhall Motors Luton in 2002, or MG Rover in 2005.
At the meeting Unite joint general secretary, Woodley, declared: ‘I’m gutted because of the seriousness of the situation.
‘This isn’t about Ellesmere Port, it’s about Luton as well as Ellesmere Port.
‘It’s about all those families going back to 2000, with the disgraceful closure of Vauxhall, and we were unable to fight back.
‘If we don’t win now – and we are going to win – if we don’t win this battle, in the years to come there will no Vauxhall Motors in Britain. . . . But due to a massive reaction by the German government, the German workers – who would do anything, including hara-kiri to defend their jobs – everything changed. It’s heavy.’
As Woodley knows, he agreed to the closure of Vauxhall Luton in 2002, just after a 20,000-strong international demonstration of GM workers from Germany, Spain and Belgium launched an international struggle to keep the plant open. GM workers even stopped work in Brazil!
Instead of developing that united strike of workers Woodley aborted it, in order to agree to the closure.
When the workers were united, he sabotaged that unity, which we know is absolutely vital.
He knows full well that only occupation, and strike action to demand nationalisation, can win the struggle. He is not prepared to organise it, instead he prefers to blame the German workers.
Workers in Ellesmere Port and Luton must immediately demand mass meetings to discuss the fight for jobs. They must organise the occupation of the plants, and begin the struggle for their nationalisation, urging the Opel workers of Germany, Belgium and Spain to do the same.