OCCUPY GM PLANTS – Nationalise motor car industry

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‘THE news that General Motors is heading into bankruptcy means that the future of all GM plants is in the balance, especially the two in the UK, Luton GM and Vauxhall Ellesmere Port’, said All Trades Union Alliance (ATUA) National Secretary Dave Wiltshire yesterday.

He added: ‘With the Luton van plant on short time working, closure is looming.

‘So far the union leadership have done absolutely nothing to keep a single job or plant open in the motor industry.

‘All they’ve done is beg the government for subsidies in the hope of keeping some plants open for a short time.

‘This inactivity is shameful. The demand on these leaders must be that not a single job must be lost, that there are no cuts in pay or working conditions and no plant closures.

‘The unions must demand that the GM plants, and the entire motor car industry in the UK be nationalised and placed under the control of the workers.

Any threatened closure must be met with occupations.

‘If the present leadership of the unions refuses to take up these basic struggles then they should be removed immediately and replaced with a leadership that will fight for every job and every factory.

‘The trade unions must be ready to organise national strike action to secure the nationalisation of the motor car industry’.

Billions more dollars, pounds, euros and yen were wiped of share prices as world stock markets fell sharply after news the Senate had rejected the US carmaker bail-out package, sending GM towards bankruptcy and threatening millions of jobs in the US, Europe and Asia.

In London, the FTSE 100 fell 163.68 points or 3.7 per cent, the Paris Cac 40 index dropped 5.1 per cent and Frankfurt’s Dax index was down four per cent, after Asian shares tumbled overnight.

Wall Street’s Dow Jones index closed down nearly 200 points on Thursday and sank a further 200 points soon after opening yesterday.

The US dollar fell to below 89 yen, a 13-year low.

The Bush administration said yesterday it is considering using money from the $700bn bail-out, known as the Troubled Assets Relief Programme, earmarked to rescue the US banks, to bail out the struggling automakers.

The White House said that the US economy could not withstand a body blow like the collapse of the auto industry and the Federal government may have to step in.

‘Given the current weakened state of the US economy, we will consider other options, if necessary including use of the TARP programme, to prevent a collapse of troubled automakers,’ White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said.

She added that it would be ‘irresponsible’ to further weaken the economy by allowing the Big Three, GM, Ford and Chrysler, to fail.

Meanwhile, Japan’s Nikkei share index fell 484.68 points, or 5.6 per cent, to 8253.87, while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index sank 6.9 per cent. Other regional markets also fell.

Following the market falls. the Japanese government announced a 23 trillion yen ($254.6bn, £170.8bn) stimulus package.

Shares in carmakers Toyota, Honda and Nissan all fell by at least ten per cent.

Japanese exporters’ shares were also driven lower as the dollar sank.

l Bank of America announced yesterday that it plans to cut between 30,000 and 35,000 jobs, or 11 per cent of its 380,000 workforce, over three years, following the completion of its $50bn takeover of Merrill Lynch.

Bank of America said the move reflects both post-merger efficiency savings, and ‘the weak economic environment’ which had hit business.

It said the job cuts would come across both businesses, although it said it could not give exact numbers until early 2009.

• Spanish bank Santander said it will cut 1,900 jobs in its three UK businesses – Abbey, Alliance & Leicester and Bradford & Bingley.

The bank said that the jobs would be cut in 2009 to reduce costs and did not rule out compulsory redundancies.