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From The Socialist newspaper, 5 January 2001

Vauxhall Luton - Angry workers ready for Action

AFTER CAR multinational General Motors (GM) announced it was closing its Vauxhall plant in Luton, angry workers laid siege to the firm's headquarters. Workers say that "everybody was involved" in the protests.
Socialist Party industrial organiser BILL MULLINS spoke to Vauxhall Luton workers the following day.

Martin, a new starter under the terms of the last agreement, earning only 82% of the pay of other workers, said: "I'll have worked here nine months in April, we were told we'd get a full-time job at the end of nine months.

"Then we're told we're out the door with nothing. There's 114 new starters being laid off on 1 April without a penny."

Sima, who works in the newsagent directly opposite the gates of the plant where her husband works, said: "They told us last year that we'd be having eight years more work with the new Epsilon car. Instead GM are closing this plant."

This is catastrophic for the car workers and thousands of others. For every one Vauxhall track worker five others depend on them.

GM took this decision in readiness for a collapse in the world car market. They predict that 2001 will see two million fewer cars sold than 2000 in GM's home market of the USA. Big multinationals tend to retreat to their home base during an economic downturn.

Blair boasts that the UK is the "inward investment capital of Europe". Blair's ready to offer overseas capitalists the right to set up shop without "restrictive regulations" such as the right of the unions to consultation before bosses close down plants, even without minimum legal rights for workers against redundancy. It also makes it also easy for GM to pull out of Britain.

Vauxhall's profits increased massively from 72 million in 1998 to 127 million in 1999 yet this isn't enough for GM. They want to concentrate their production in fewer European plants ready for the expected world recession.

Capitalist firms will do all they can to maximise their profits in the interests of their big shareholders and to hell with the workers.

The workers are prepared to take action to defend their jobs. Duncan Simpson, the national officer of the AEEU has promised a fight to defend the plant "tooth and nail". Now the unions must turn words into action.

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The coronavirus crisis has laid bare the class character of society in numerous ways. It is making clear to many that it is the working class that keeps society running, not the CEOs of major corporations.

The results of austerity have been graphically demonstrated as public services strain to cope with the crisis.

The government has now ripped up its 'austerity' mantra and turned to policies that not long ago were denounced as socialist. But after the corona crisis, it will try to make the working class pay for it, by trying to claw back what has been given.

  • The Socialist Party's material is more vital than ever, so we can continue to report from workers who are fighting for better health and safety measures, against layoffs, for adequate staffing levels, etc.
  • When the health crisis subsides, we must be ready for the stormy events ahead and the need to arm workers' movements with a socialist programme - one which puts the health and needs of humanity before the profits of a few.
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In The Socialist 5 January 2001:

Who's Pulling Labour's Strings?

Special Appeal - Fund our campaign

Nationalise the Railways

Strike Shuts Down Hackney

School students join the protest

Hackney Workers can win

Vauxhall Luton - Angry workers ready for Action


Socialist Party campaigns

Socialist Alliances: another step in the wrong direction


Socialist Party Marxist analysis

2001 - a year of Workers' reawakening


International socialist news and analysis

Greek general strike against bosses' attacks


 

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