THE Unite leaders’ policy that workers must share the pain of the capitalist crisis bore more rotten fruit on Tuesday.
This was when Unite’s Woodley and Simpson agreed with Magna, that the UK workforce should concede major ‘efficiency changes’.
Among the changes are workers working longer hours, having two years of wage freezing, meaning real wage cuts, plus pension cuts, and that there should be 800 voluntary redundancies.
The cynicism of the operation was shown by the rationalisation given to the workforce working longer hours.
This was that in return for the agreement that there would be no compulsory sackings, ‘the workforce will contribute through cost-saving and efficiency measures, including a two-year pay freeze (although weekly working hours will rise helping to bridge the earnings gap) and increased contributions to the car purchase scheme of £20 per month.’
In fact, Magna is banking on the working conditions being so awful that hundreds of older workers in particular will seek redundancy because they cannot keep up with the pace of the operation and the degree of exploitation that is being imposed.
Unite is now the union that organises that its members ‘share the pain’ of the capitalist crisis! A new form of trade union leader has emerged, a vital accessory for every employer who wants to super-exploit his workforce.
However, sharing the pain is for slaves not for trade unionists!
The deal with Magna is to last till 2013, according to Woodley and Simpson.
After that as far as Ellesmere Port is concerned, the best that the Unite deal can offer is that ‘Ellesmere Port, subject to maintaining its competitive position, will produce the next generation Astra (set for 2016).’
In other words, Ellesmere Port only has a future after 2013 if the workforce is prepared to work harder and faster and for less money than the rest of the workers throughout Europe. This is the reality of the ‘race to the bottom’.
For GMM Luton the thread that it is to hang from is even slenderer: The Magna deal states that ‘the Luton van plant will be maintained as a key site within Magna’s UK portfolio’, and confirms that Magna will seek ‘any other possibility on product’ for the plant.
‘Any other possibility’ does not equal job security at a time when Renault is set to produce its new van in Russia. What is ahead for Luton is being worked to death for cut wages until closure, in a few years time.
Unite co-leader Simpson paid a grovelling tribute to Brown and Mandelson on Tuesday, saying: ‘The UK government, chiefly the prime minister and Lord Mandelson, has been pivotal to reaching agreement today.’
Woodley grandly took the UK workforce for granted when he said: ‘Agreement has now been reached with the workforce in this country. We would urge that each and every government involved in the European operations, including that in the UK, now wastes no time in finalising the financial contribution which they will make to this business.’
In other words the EU governments, including the Brown government, have still not agreed to contribute the necessary finances for the deal. Unite has beaten them in the race to give Magna what it wants! Also, it has yet to inform the workforce!
The Unite leaders, as junior partners of Brown and Mandelson, have been pushing the bourgeois solution to the GM crisis. This is speed up the workforce and cut their wages before you close them down.
These leaders have opposed the nationalisation of the GM plants in the UK, the only way to save jobs and defend living standards.
Luton and Ellesmere Port workers must demand immediate mass meetings, to reject the Woodley, Mandelson, Magna deal. The UK GM plants must be nationalised!