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South Wales: Workers vow to fight job losses
There was strong media interest in a Swansea public meeting called on 16 December by the Linamar (ex Visteon car component plant) shop stewards' committee.
Alec Thraves, secretary Socialist Party Wales, Swansea trade union council.
This reflected the fact that these workers are the first group prepared to launch a fight back to save their jobs, whilst calling on other trade unionists for support and a united struggle against this jobs slaughter.
Around 100 Linamar workers, local trade unionists, friends and family packed into the meeting. We heard an inspiring call for action from Socialist Party member and Linamar Unite convener, Rob Williams.
Linamar wants to make 208 workers accept 'voluntary redundancy' - over half the workforce - and have offered a generous redundancy package, which is a recognition of the militant reputation of workers in the plant.
Those few lucky enough to be able to walk straight into another job, may be tempted by the tens of thousands of pounds on offer.
But for the vast majority of Linamar workers, the prospect of losing a well-paid manufacturing job and being thrown on the dole in this economic climate is not very appealing.
Rob said: "There are no guarantees - if you fight you still may lose but if you don't fight you will definitely lose!"
Some of the Linamar workers who spoke were scathing of their full time union officials who, despite being invited to address the meeting, failed to attend. Second hand apologies for non-attendance when hundreds of jobs are on the line just confirmed to members how inadequate their full time trade union leadership has become after many years of 'partnership' deals and 'concession bargaining' with the employers.
However, the absence of Unite full time officers was more than made up for by support and solidarity from other car workers, a Communication Workers Union national leader, Unite, Unison, PCS, NUJ and other workplace reps as well as the secretary and chair of Swansea trade union council.
On behalf of the Linamar shop stewards committee, Rob thanked the audience for their support and urged all trade unionists, in both the public and private sectors, to help campaign for an official trade union lobby of the Welsh Assembly in the New Year to defend jobs.
In manufacturing industry, there will also be pressure for an official meeting of shop stewards from across Wales to hammer out a common strategy against job cuts and to support threatened workplaces.
If union obstacles are put in the way of such initiatives then the meeting believed that unofficial action would be necessary.
Thousands of jobs have already gone; tens of thousands more will be threatened next year and this successful meeting provided the beginning of a serious, organised and militant fightback.
Car industry in crisis - national meeting
The National Shop Stewards Network is organising a meeting for car workers and those in ancillary industries:
Saturday 14 February 2009, 12-4pm, The Birmingham and Midland Institute, Margaret Street, Birmingham B3 3BS.
£5 per delegate or visitor. See also: www.shopstewards.net or PO Box 58262, London N1P 1ET.
In The Socialist 7 January 2009:
Socialist Party Marxist analysis
Socialist Party youth and students
Socialist Party campaigns
Celebrity Big Brother
International socialist news and analysis
Socialist Party workplace news
Environment and socialism