The Socialist 10 December 2008 |
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Militant response needed to save jobs
Workers at the ex-Visteon plant in Swansea are reeling at the shock announcement that the new owners, Canadian company Linamar, are 'offering' 200 voluntary redundancies to the workforce. This would reduce the workforce by 60%!
Despite management's words that it would make the plant 'leaner' and presumably 'fitter', it would raise doubts over the future viability of the plant. Unite convenor Rob Williams spoke to Alec Thraves (in a personal capacity).
"Linamar told us in July when they took us over, that their purchase would secure the plant. Yet less than six months later we are facing this carnage. If they get the volunteers, there would be just over 100 shopfloor workers left!
Linamar are using the excuse of the credit crunch and the recession to explain the need for these job losses. What they are not saying is that at least 40 of these jobs, making cross-car transmission boxes, are being lost because they are taking work out of the plant and moving it to their Mexico plant.
There is absolutely no justification for this other than making more profits. We can't accept this logic and will be consulting our members about taking industrial action to stop them breaking this sourcing agreement. In any case, if the company turn to compulsory redundancies, if they don't get enough volunteers, this would trigger an immediate ballot.
Even if we accept that the recession is delaying the promised new work, replacing that which has ended, we can't just shrug our shoulders and accept redundancies.
The bosses at Northern Rock and the other banks didn't. They were nationalised to save the financial system. Why can't factories who face closure or large redundancies be taken into public ownership to save jobs?
For a start, the cross-car product has to stay. Then, any so-called surplus employees should stay to share out the work on a rota basis if necessary or be allowed to re-train.
The Welsh Assembly government has just issued direction that companies should re-train staff rather than lay them off or sack them.
If this is the case, the workers should continue to be paid by Linamar or the government. It could cost Linamar up to £10 million to make 200 workers redundant. That money should be used to invest in the plant and keep workers in a job rather than bribe them to give up their jobs.
The stewards' committee and the workforce will be discussing how to fight back against these proposed job cuts. However, we have already sent Linamar the message that we won't be rolling over and accepting defeat.
We have fought every attack on us over the last three and a half years, from our contracts to our jobs. We need to build on this to keep our jobs and win a long-term future for the plant."
The shop stewards committee has organised a public meeting in Swansea to oppose the job cuts: "No job cuts! No outsourcing of work!" - Dolphin Hotel (opposite Primark), 7.30pm, Tuesday 16 December, speakers include Rob Williams (Unite convenor), Brian Gibbon (Welsh Assembly member), Andy Richards (Unite regional secretary) invited.