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Socialists call for "robust" action to oppose Peugeot job losses
Press statement from the Socialist Party
For immediate use: 19 March 2006
Socialists in Coventry today called for "robust" action to oppose more than 2000 job losses flowing from yesterday's announcement by Peugeot that it was ceasing car manufacture at the Ryton plant.
Cllr Dave Nellist (Socialist, St Michael's, and former Labour MP for the city) today accused Peugeot of "playing a long, clever game" to shift production to Eastern Europe where wages are lower.
Cllr Nellist said:
"I hope union members meeting at Ryton today will take inspiration from how French workers have dealt in recent weeks with plans to make it easier to sack young workers, and decide on a robust response.
Dave Nellist speaking at the recent Campaign for a New Workers' Party conference - photo Mark Vallee
"12 months ago Peugeot sacked nearly 900 workers in Coventry and we warned at the time that their investment with Toyota of nearly £1 billion in the Czech Republic would spell the death knell for mass car production in our city.
"It's not that Coventry has suddenly got more expensive. Peugeot shareholders want to maximise profits, by cheapening costs. That's their business logic, but it makes no social sense.
"In addition to the 2000 job losses at Ryton there will be hundreds, perhaps thousands, of other jobs lost or affected in the area from suppliers. A huge hole will be punched in the local economy of at least £50 million, potentially much more. That will affect everything from shops to schools.
"So whilst, in my view, industrial action should be seriously considered by Ryton workers, it's not their job alone to oppose the closure of this plant. The unions must call an early date for a march and rally in the city to get the whole of our community behind the families at Ryton. We need such protest action in days not months.
"In addition to the millions of pounds that will be lost, government departments and the local council and county council will have to spend millions picking up the pieces after such a closure. Far better that those huge sums of money be invested now to keep manufacturing industry alive in our city.
"But with public investment should come public control. Peugeot have given up the right to have a say in what happens to Ryton. The Government should intervene to stop this closure, not with grants or favours for this multinational, but by taking the plant into public ownership.
"It shouldn't be difficult - even a Tory Prime Minister, Ted Heath, was able to nationalise Rolls-Royce in 1971 in 24 hours of parliamentary time to stop that key element of engineering industry been lost. Alongside public ownership there should then be a serious debate about what should be produced at Ryton that addresses the real transport needs of society.
"Our city and this region have lost thousands upon thousands of manufacturing jobs in recent years. Weak employment laws make it easier to sack people in this country than elsewhere. The unions must force the government to act now to stop this industrial vandalism."
In The Socialist 20 April 2006:
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Socialist Party election campaign
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